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Cervical Cancer

Volume 175: debated on Wednesday 4 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the latest figures for cervical cancer (a) patients and (b) deaths in Scotland.

The latest figures show 443 patients suffering from cervical cancer and, regrettably, 191 deaths.

Does the Minister agree that that, and the Government's lack of interest, is appalling? Recently, the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes) made an appeal regarding the 2,000 needless cervical cancer deaths nationally. The Government have been repeatedly asked by family practitioner committees and cytologists to spend an extra £20 million. Had they done so, we might have saved the 2,000 people who have died from this invasive carcinoma. Why do the Government have such a shocking and appalling record, and when will they spend the £20 million that we need to achieve 90 per cent. protection?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the figures for loss of life through cervical cancer are disturbing. I also agree that many of these deaths are preventable. In 90 per cent. of the cases where cervical cancer has been diagnosed, there has been no screening. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would recognise that the Government have put in place a call and recall system for cervical screening, the aim of which is to ensure that all women between the ages of 20 and 60 are screened before 1993, on the basis of regular screening at least once every five years. In some health boards, screening will take place every three years. A screening programme is in hand and it is extremely important that women in Scotland respond to invitations to take part. In addition, the new GP contract gives incentives to doctors to provide screening services for all their patients. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that.