Labour has criticise ministers after figures showed an 11 per cent rise in the number of women whose smear test was overdue.

Around 3.7 million were late with their check-ups in 2012-13, 364,000 more than in 2009-10.

The biggest increases were among working age women, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Tests for more than a million aged in their 30s were overdue- up 11 per cent- while the numbers of overdue tests for 40-somethings rose 15 per cent to 925,000. The figure for women in their 50s was 16% to 620,000.

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall said: “Someone is diagnosed with cervical cancer every three hours in the UK, and it kills three women every single day.

“Smear tests save thousands of lives every year, so this recent drop in uptake is extremely worrying.

“It’s vital to increase public awareness and make it easier for women to book their tests, including outside normal working hours, because it can be tough getting to your local surgery if you’re working, commuting or have to pick your children up after school.

“Yet a third of women who miss or delay their tests say it’s hard to book an appointment at their local surgery at a convenient time.

“David Cameron promised easier access to GP surgeries, but hundreds of them have shut their doors earlier in the day after ministers cut the funding for Labour’s extended opening hours scheme.

“The government should listen to what patients want so that women don’t have to choose between work and taking care of their health.”

 A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “It is disingenuous to suggest that more women are unable to get a smear test because of GP access issues.

“We know there was a significant rise in women wanting tests in 2009 following [Big Brother contestant] Jade Goody’s death, and now fewer women choose to take up the invitation to have a smear.

“The old 48-hour GP appointment target actually worsened access and under new plans, millions more people will get to see their family doctor at evenings and weekends.”