GPs and health organisations are being urged to help to improve rates of potentially lifesaving cervical screening by making the most of an innovative online data tool.
The interactive data dashboard provides in-depth information on screening levels and shows where they could be improved. It was launched a year ago by NHS Digital, Public Health England (PHE) and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), GP practices and local authorities can look up their data to see where to focus work on improving coverage2 rates of the vital test.
During Cervical Screening Awareness Week, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has welcomed efforts by CCGs who have used the information – and urged more providers and commissioners to do the same.
Cervical screening coverage in England has decreased in each of the last three years, annual figures published by NHS Digital show3.
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said:
“Cervical screening attendance is in decline and it is only through concerted and collaborative action that we are going to see this trend reverse.
“There is some fantastic and innovative work being undertaken across the country to increase awareness and attendance of the test and it is important that we recognise and celebrate this.
“Being able to access up-to-date data is vital to understanding where to focus efforts, measure impact of activity and flag where support might be needed so I would encourage everyone involved in increasing attendance to make use of the data dashboard.”
The dashboard includes data by local authority, CCG and GP practice, and is updated on a quarterly basis.
It is already being used by CCGs across the country – for example, Merton CCG used the data to understand their coverage rates and then worked with GP practices to promote the importance of getting women to take the tests.
The CCG also worked in collaboration with the Merton Cancer Task Group to further raise awareness.
Dr Shweta Singh, Merton Macmillan GP and Merton Clinical Commissioning Group lead on cancer said: “We have worked in collaboration with our local GP practices to make the best use of this data on the dashboard.
“We are aware that screening levels could be better and are soon launching extra screening clinics to reach more women. It is so important that women take these tests as the earlier we can detect any changes, the better we can prevent cervical cancer and ultimately save lives.”
Pritpal Rayat, Information Analysis Lead at NHS Digital and Responsible Statistician for Screening and Immunisations, said: “This dashboard offers up-to-date and detailed information that users can readily access.
“It is great to see that a year after it has launched, the data is being used to see where coverage levels could be improved and to target efforts in those areas.
“The NHS has been at the forefront of innovation ever since its inception.
“As the 70th birthday of the NHS is commemorated this year, this is a great example of how improving access to data can have a direct effect on healthcare and patients.”
Professor Anne Mackie, PHE Director of Screening said:
“This innovative digital dashboard will be a welcome initiative to help increase the number of women take up the opportunity for a screen. Cervical screening prevents thousands of cancers so it’s important we do all we can to ensure women are aware and choose to be screened.
“PHE is committed in its role to provide support to NHS England and local authorities to ensure that as many women as possible can take up their offer of screening.”
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Notes to editors
- NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2017/18 financial year, NHS Digital published 275 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.
- Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for routine cervical screening every three years, whereas those aged 50 to 64 are invited for routine screening every five years. 'Coverage' is defined as the percentage of women in the population who were eligible for screening on 31 March in any given year, who were screened adequately within a specified period (within 3.5 years for women aged 25-49, and within 5.5 years for women aged 50-64). This measure is known as 'age-appropriate coverage' and is also used in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. Women ineligible for screening and not included in coverage are those whose recall has been ceased for clinical reasons (most commonly due to hysterectomy).
- The Spotlight report covers activities undertaken by local authorities and CCGs to increase cervical screening coverage https://www.jostrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/cervical_screening_in_the_spotlight_2018_final.pdf.
- The interactive dashboards containing quarterly figures are available for GP data, for Clinical Commissioning Group data and for local authority data.
- The 70th birthday of the NHS is being marked this year – more details are here
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