Cervical Cancer: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 22nd February 2018.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps are being taken to minimise the waiting time for cervical screening test results.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Cervical screening turnaround time is a quality measure and allows the National Health Service to understand how fast processes are working. The measure is that at least 98% of screening results letters for women who have attended for their cervical screen should be received within 14 days from the date of the screening appointment.

Presently there is a delay in some areas for some women who are waiting to receive the results from their cervical screening test, due to a forthcoming change to the national cervical screening pathway where cytology (which is currently the first test performed on all screening samples) will be replaced by the end of 2019 by a new more automated test than currently; primary human papillomavirus (HPV) screening. This new HPV test brings added benefits for women and will prevent more cases of cervical cancer.

Once this new test is implemented the requirement for cytology workforce will reduce. This is already impacting the services as retention of the workforce becomes more difficult.

The NHS is putting in place solutions to reduce the time it is taking for women to receive their results, such as establishing a national mitigation plan to provide more capacity ahead of the new primary HPV test being implemented. Equally, local commissioning teams are working with their cervical screening providers to put in place local strategies to improve the turnaround time for women to receive results in their areas.

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