By the end of April all 190 district health authorities in England had implemented a computerised call and recall system for cervical cancer screening. The programme will make a major contribution to the health of our women and will save many lives in the years to come.
As most deaths from cervical cancer occur in women who have never had a smear test and as, if they had had a test, the chances are that the condition would have been 100 per cent. curable, does my hon. Friend agree that the areas on which the Government should be concentrating are, first, to encourage women to register with general practitioners and, secondly, to publicise the effective success of smear tests?
Yes, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. In those parts of the country where the response rate is not as high as we had hoped, one reason is that the registers are not accurate. We urge all women who move house to tell their GPs and to ensure that the address on the register is correct.
Is the Minister aware that Sheffield health authority has encountered some centrally determined constraints in the direction of its cervical cancer screening programme, notably computer software which does not enable the health authority to call clients and search for them on a postcode basis? Is he further aware that although that needs only a small modification, and although the authority has made many representations, nothing has been done?
Yes, and we are working on some aspects of the software. We are content that we have a system that works throughout the country and we are now seeing what improvements and modifications we can make.