News archive

Pressures on the cervical screening programme

BAC members, and all those working in cytology, will be well aware of the pressures on cervical cytology laboratories in delivering the current cervical screening programme.

The decision to implement Primary HPV is also well known, and is compounding current service pressures with uncertainty about future service delivery and staff configuration and requirements. The BAC is well aware of the problems this is causing laboratories, and that this does vary across the country and also within the four countries of the UK.

Many of the issues raised with the BAC relate mainly to the English CSP and we have written to Dr Anne Mackie, Director of Screening, at PHE to highlight the concerns of laboratory staff (see downloads).

PHE has recently issued two communication about current pressures and possible options (see previous news item dated 19th August) and also the attached. The BAC fully agree with PHE of the problems facing the English CSP in particular, although the issues are applicable across the whole of the UK in general.

It may be that capacity will be able to be found within the Pilot HPV Primary laboratories which will help alleviate some of the current reporting issues that non-HPV Primary site laboratories are experiencing. We also agree fully with PHE in that “... implementing HPV as a primary screening test is highly complex and there are a number of variables that need to be considered. Whilst we recognise that some providers will be keen to understand more about how they can bid to become a provider of HPV as a primary test as part of the national rollout, there is much work still to do to ensure that implementation is safe, effective, and compliant with EU procurement rules. A full implementation plan has not yet been agreed; however PHE and NHS England will continue to work in collaboration with clinical experts in the field. We are fully committed to working with the laboratory community and we look forward to continuing to receive clinical input and advice. We appreciate that this is an unsettling time for all particularly the cytology workforce. We would like to thank all of you for your continued commitment to providing a high quality cervical screening programme for women.”