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NHS England closely monitors the coverage rates for cervical screening in all age groups. NHS England is committed to improving coverage and reducing variation between all age groups.
Local NHS England commissioners analyse coverage rates within their area and work with general practices to improve coverage by sharing best practice. In addition a primary care cancer screening best practice guide has been developed jointly with the transforming cancer services team, clinical commissioning groups and local authority public health representatives.
NHS England is working in partnership with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support on the ACE (Accelerate, Coordinate, Evaluate) Programme aiming to generate knowledge about effective approaches to achieve earlier diagnosis. A number of ACE test sites are evaluating approaches to increase screening rates in a range of groups.
A range of research studies are also underway, such as Imperial College conducting a randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of texting non-responders on improving coverage. In addition, the Department’s Behavioural Insight team has undertaken a trial to investigate the use of behavioural insights to optimise the content of the invitation letter for cervical screening. Results are due shortly.
The Independent Cancer Taskforce recognised the importance of screening for cervical cancer and the potential of the new human papillomavirus (HPV) test in their report, Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes, published in July 2015. NHS England has appointed Cally Palmer as National Cancer Director to lead the implementation of the strategy, and an implementation plan outlining the key first steps for the national cancer programme was published on 12 May. In addition, the routine HPV vaccination programme, offering immunisation to girls aged 12-14 years, is expected to reduce the already low rates of cervical cancer in these young women and allow them to be protected for years to come.
Ministers welcome cervical cancer prevention week and we are fully supportive of the work Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust does to raise awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of cervical screening for eligible women.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, Health at a Glance 2015: How does the United Kingdom compare?, the UK has cervical screening rates well above the OECD average. Further information is available at: