Decrease in number of people having cervical screening tests in 2020-21, new statistics show
Notes for editors
National policy is that eligible individuals are offered screening every three or five years depending on their age. Individuals 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 individuals eligible for screening at a given point in time who were screened adequately within a specified period (within 3.5 years for those aged 25 to 49, and within 5.5 years for those aged 50 to 64).
Due to coronavirus measures, attendance for screening was less than usual in the early part of 2020-21. Screening and referral of those individuals considered to be at highest risk of a significant cervical abnormality was prioritised during this period and continued to take place. From the summer of 2020, screening services were fully restored and higher than normal levels of screening tests were seen. All individuals eligible for screening who should have received an invitation in 2020-21 were invited.
An inadequate sample result can be assigned following a test outcome of either HPV unavailable or cytology inadequate. Individuals who have an inadequate sample are either tested again or referred to colposcopy. In 2020-21, 0.4% of all samples were inadequate, a decrease from 1.2% in 2019-20 and 2.3% in 2018-19. The reduction in inadequate samples in 2020-21 is related to the implementation of HPV primary screening. Under HPV primary screening, a HPV negative result means cytology is not required. Therefore cytology tests, which have a higher rate of inadequate results, are used less often.
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The geographic breakdowns included in the dashboard are upper tier local authority, region and country.
Last edited: 13 December 2021 5:42 pm