Skip to main content
Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.


New statistics on cervical screening programme for 2019-20 published

The latest annual report on cervical screening coverage in England has been published by NHS Digital today.

The latest annual report on cervical screening coverage1 in England has been published by NHS Digital today.

Cervical Screening Programme, England 2019-20 presents information on women aged 25-64 who were invited for regular screening, as well as the screening samples sent to pathology laboratories and referrals to colposcopy clinics.

It also shows the change in the programme’s coverage in England compared to previous years, the numbers invited for screening and the results of the samples taken and the time taken to return results.

In total, 4.63m women aged 25-64 were invited for screening during 2019-20, which is a 5.0% increase on the previous year when 4.41m were invited.

3.20m women aged 25-64 were tested in 2019-20. This is a decrease of 6.8% on the previous year when 3.43m women were tested2.

Latest 2019-20 coverage figures show that 72.2% of eligible women aged 25-64 had last been screened within the required number of years1. This is an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the previous year when coverage was 71.9%.

In the 50-64 age cohort, coverage was lowest in the oldest age group (60-64) and highest in the youngest age group (50-54).

The main report is accompanied by an interactive data dashboard, which allows users to break down the coverage data by geography3 and to also see a time series.

As of 31 March 2020 (for women aged 25-64), coverage ranged from 64.7% in London to 75.5% in the North East – with all screening regions reporting an increase in coverage when compared with the same point in 2019.

103 of 149 local authorities had coverage levels of 70% and above, which is an increase of two compared with 2019.

Coverage ranged from 49.8% in Kensington and Chelsea (London) to 80.2% in Rutland (East Midlands). This is the first time a local authority (Rutland) has met or exceeded the 80% coverage target for women aged 25-64.

In 2019-20, 191,563 women were referred for colposcopy (all ages).

Read the full report:

Cervical Screening Programme, England – 2019-20


Notes for editors

    1. National policy is that women are offered screening every three or five years depending on their age. Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for regular cervical screening under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. Coverage is defined as the percentage of women eligible for screening at a given point in time who were screened adequately within a specified period (within 3.5 years for women aged 25 to 49, and within 5.5 years for women aged 50 to 64).
    2. The reasons for the 6.8% decrease in the number tested between 2018-19 and 2019-20 are not clear. Contributory factors may include:
      1. Increase in the number of women tested in 2018-19. A screening awareness campaign starting in March 2019 may have contributed to this.
      2. Reduction in the number of tests carried out in 2019-20 may be due in part to disruption from covid-19 at the end of 2019-20.

        The number of tests carried out in 2019-20 is similar to earlier years (e.g. 2016-17 and 2017-18). 
    3. The geographic breakdowns included in the dashboard are upper tier local authority, region and country.
    4. Disruption from the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) is now starting to affect the quality of some of our statistics. This report includes new data for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, therefore most programme activity is unaffected by COVID-19. However, data collection and submission processes, which continued after 31 March 2020 are more significantly affected by COVID-19 disruption.
    5. For media enquiries or interview requests, please contact [email protected] or telephone 0300 303 3888.
    6. The interactive dashboard above is in Microsoft PowerBI which does not fully support all accessibility needs. If you need further assistance, please contact us for help.

Latest news

Last edited: 26 October 2022 4:30 pm