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Comment on the 2018-19 cervical screening statistics for England

Thu, 21/11/2019 - 09:51

Released today, the latest cervical screening statistics for England show 71.9% women accepting a cervical screening invitation, an 0.5% increase on last year. Almost one million women did not attend when invited.

  • Coverage in the lower age cohort (25-49) increased to 69.8%, from 69.1% in 2018 
  • Coverage in the upper age cohort (50-64) remained at 76.2%, the same as in 2018
  • In 2019, coverage ranged from 64.6% in London to 75.1% in the East Midlands
  • All screening regions, except for London, reported an increase in coverage in 2019 when compared with 2018.
  • 3.43 million women aged 25-64 were tested, an increase of 7.7% on the previous year when 3.18 million women were tested.

Commenting on the stats, Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust:

“While we have seen small gains in attendance, we must not lose sight of the fact that one million women did not attend cervical screening last year in England. We remain far below the 80% target and have a long way to go. Among young women, it remains under two in three booking a potentially life-saving test and big variations across ages demonstrate the need for targeted activities to tackle the different barriers across the life course.

Funding for national Be Clear on Cancer campaigns has been cut and this is highly frustrating. There are areas of the country where under half of the eligible population are being screened and we know the benefits of these campaigns can be significant.

With HPV testing being rolled out we now have a far more effective screening method which can prevent many more cancer diagnoses. Ensuring women can access and understand the benefits of this test should be paramount. Ensuring women fully understand what it means to be tested for HPV, to be diagnosed with it and implications on daily life is equally as important. We are seeing increasing numbers of women who are confused and fearful following a HPV test and this needs to change.”

Commenting on turnaround times, Robert Music said: 

“Low turnaround times for results over the year clearly highlight where changes to the programme have been mismanaged. While the situation has improved, it fully highlights the need for clearer governance and accountability taken across the programme. Lessons must be learned to ensure future changes are conducted without women suffering upheaval and distress. We look forward to seeing the findings of Mike Richard’s report hopefully come to fruition.”