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National cervical screening

The national cervical screening call/recall system invites women for a smear test based upon criteria such as age, location, GP and previous test results. Women are invited for a smear test on a three-yearly or five-yearly basis - depending on local policy. 

Before invitations are sent out, GPs receive prior notification lists (PNLs) of women who are eligible for screening. These lists act as a failsafe mechanism, allowing GPs to review who is to be invited for screening. This review ensures that invitations are not sent to women who, for example, may have left the area, or are currently undergoing medical treatment.

The system receives the results back from pathology laboratories, which are forwarded onto the women's own GPs. Depending on the results, women will either be placed into routine recall (and be invited for a smear test in three or five years time), invited for further tests, or will receive medical treatment.

In 2013, the system was expanded to include human papilloma virus (HPV) Primary Screening, including a prototype HPV reporting database.

Contact details

National Helpdesk Exeter

Email: or phone: 0300 303 4034

Last edited: 17 February 2022 3:46 pm