A WHEELCHAIR user with a complex disability has been left “shocked” after her smear test at The Royal Oldham Hospital was repeatedly cancelled due to a lack of disability equipment.

Shona Farnworth, who requires the use of a hoist for the procedure, was turned away by hospital staff after being told the equipment was not available.

After two cancelled appointments, Mrs Farnworth was seen on July 8, after she complained to the Northern Care Alliance, which runs hospitals and community services in areas including Oldham.

Ahead of the appointment the hospital reportedly suggested that Mrs Farnworth should be strapped to a stretcher at home and taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Staff also proposed that Mrs Farnworth be put under general anaesthetic for the smear test.

Mrs Farnworth said: “My disability gives me plenty of challenges, which I manage to overcome in my own way. However, I am quite shocked by my experience with hospital appointments these past few months. I did not expect to get turned away from a smear appointment because of the lack of disability equipment.

“The hospital didn't have a hoist or profile bed available, and no trained staff able to operate such equipment. I had to plead with them to provide a hoist and profile bed for me to have my smear test on. I ended up being provided with a small surgery bed and six nurses who didn't know how to operate a hoist.”

Mrs Farnworth has been supported by Pennine Mencap since the charity started 10 years ago and is now a peer mentor.

Chair of Pennine Mencap, Mr Elliot Sparks said making a smear test such a “degrading ordeal” is “unacceptable”.

He called the proposed use of general aesthetic a “dramatic suggestion” that was “very shocking” to Mrs Farnworth, particularly due to the increased risk posed by her condition.

He added: “That such impractical measures were even considered is an indicator of the hospital’s dysfunctional approach to what should be a routine task.”

Pennine Mencap is now campaigning for a wider investigation into the availability of lifting and handling equipment, and suitably trained staff, at gynaecology departments nationwide.

After hearing about Mrs Farnworth’s traumatic experience, councillor Louie Hamblett, shadow cabinet member for health and social care wrote to Mr David Jago, chief officer at The Royal Oldham Hospital.

Cllr Hamblett said: “I am shocked that in today’s modern medical world our NHS are failing at the basic level of treating patients with decency and respect.”

A response from Mr Jago has yet to be received, but Simon Mehigan, director of midwifery and divisional director of nursing at Royal Oldham, has confirmed that the hospital is looking into the concerns raised.

He said: “We are sorry that Shona did not have a good experience when attending the hospital. We have looked into the concerns raised and will respond formally in due course.

“We recognise that elements of the care Shona received were not appropriate to her individual needs and steps have been taken to ensure that her preferences are implemented at any future appointments. The feedback has been welcomed and measures have been put in place to look at ways we can improve the way we deliver care to patients with additional needs.”