FEARS are growing the coronavirus crisis has led to even more women missing vital cancer tests which could save their lives.

NHS Digital data shows 79 per cent of the 124,856 women in Cumbria eligible for a smear test by the end of 2019 had been screened.

That means 26,529 women in the county missed out on a potentially life-saving smear test.

Cervical screening services across England are slowly un-pausing following disruption during lockdown, which saw invites suspended and appointments delayed.

A quarter of women said they are worried about their risk of catching the coronavirus if they attend a screening, while fears around safety (11 per cent), not wanting to put “additional strain” on the NHS (15 per cent) and uncertainty over changes to services were also selected as reasons for concern.

According to figures from GP practices across the south of the county, thousands of women eligible for the free tests in Kendal and other South Lakes towns missed out on the vital NHS checks.

Windermere Health Centre reported that just 66.3 per cent of eligible women between 25 and 64 attended smear test appointments in the year 2018/19, while only 70.6 per cent turned up for the life-saving checks at Wraysdale House Surgery in Coniston.

However, the mean attendance rate in south Cumbria was slightly above overall figures for England, averaging out at 74.7 per cent across surgeries.

Furness teacher Lucy Jagger, whose mum died of cervical cancer after missing three tests, said she was ‘terrified’ that thousands of eligible Cumbria women missed their last test.

She said: “All it does is make me want to shout about it more and encourage as many women as I can to get a smear test.

“There is someone out there who hasn’t gone for a smear test and has a daughter, a sister, a family and they will leave a gap like our mum has. This needs shouting for the rooftops - even if it reaches just one more person, one more family.”

Mrs Jagger promised her mum in her final moments that she would promote cervical smears among women of all ages and remain outspoken about women’s gynaecological cancers.

She said: “My mum said to me three days before she slipped into unconsciousness that I’m not going to be here anymore so can you please keep talking about it and pushing people to go.”