Cervical Cancer (Tests)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1966.

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Photo of Mr Edwin Wainwright Mr Edwin Wainwright , Dearne Valley 12:00 am, 7th February 1966

asked the Minister of Health how many women have had the protective cervical test during each of the past three years; and how many are on the waiting list.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I regret that the information is not available. From December, 1964, to June, 1965, the number of tests per month rose from 39,000 to nearly 51,000, an annual rate of over 600,000. The returns for December, 1965, are not yet complete.

Photo of Mr Edwin Wainwright Mr Edwin Wainwright , Dearne Valley

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but does not he realise that there is strong feeling in the country, especially among women, that during the past 14 years not enough has been done by Governments in diagnosing cervical cancer? Does not my right hon. Friend also realise that unless more is done on this issue there will be great feeling against this Government, even though my right hon. Friend has done better than previous Governments did? Will my right hon. Friend make certain that he is judged by deeds and not by words?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

We may have been slow in starting this, but I think that progress during the last couple of years has been very considerable. In that part of my hon. Friend's constituency which is covered by the Doncaster Hospital Management Committee, a full service is already available, and in that part covered by Rotherham and Mexborough a full service will be available at the end of this year, so my hon. Friend is perhaps rather fortunately situated.

Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud

Is the Minister aware that, despite the progress which has been made, there is still considerable anxiety about this matter in the Western Region? Will he do what he can to speed things up?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I am always encouraging regional boards to speed up this provision. I am told that by the end of this year routine services should be readily available for well over half the population at risk.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

As the main difficulty is the continuing shortage of technicians, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been drawn to the remarkable Brighton cancer project where somewhat unconventional methods of recruiting the necessary bodies have been highly successful and have had the full support of the local medical profession and the hospital services? Will the Minister look into that and see whether that idea can be adopted elsewhere?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I am aware of it, and I shall see whether it is possible to extend it, but we feel that cytology ought to be practised by those who are doing pathology in the ordinary way rather than that people should do nothing but cytology all the time.