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Cervical Cancer: Screening

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy, what (a) target and (b) timetable he has for reducing the variation of cervical cancer screening coverage between primary care trusts; when he plans to measure the performance of this policy; and by what means. (183975)

It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) working in partnership with their strategic health authorities, local screening services and local stakeholders to provide appropriate cervical screening services for their local populations, which includes increasing coverage. Participation can be improved by engaging with potential users at a community level.

To incentivise services to encourage higher coverage, we will explore moving to an activity-based system for funding screening services. We are at the early stages of this exploration, and are focusing on how cancer screening can fit within the existing “payment by results” system. National health service cancer screening programmes will also encourage the sharing of best practice in improving accessibility for all groups. There is a need to ensure that health inequalities are tackled with targeted programmes that increase the uptake of screening in poor communities and in black and ethnic-minority communities. Commissioners in PCTs with low coverage will wish to develop these programmes.

We will continue to monitor levels of cervical screening coverage through the Office for National Statistics/Information Centre for health and social care annual Cervical Screening Statistical bulletin.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy, on what date he expects all women to be informed of the result of their cervical screening test within two weeks of its being taken. (183976)

Paragraph 3.14 of the Cancer Reform Strategy states that all women should receive the results of their cervical screening tests within two weeks by 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy what (a) target and (b) timetable he has set for tackling the falling participation of women aged 25 to 35 in cervical cancer screening. (183977)

It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) working in partnership with their strategic health authorities (SHAs), local screening services and local stakeholders to provide appropriate cervical screening services for their local populations, which includes tackling the falling participation in women aged 25 to 35.

In order to tackle the fall in coverage among younger women, national health service cancer screening programmes have commissioned the Improvement Foundation to undertake work at a local level targeting this age group. The lessons learned from this work, due to be completed in 2009, will be shared with SHAs and local screening programmes to develop best practice. The NHS cancer screening programmes’ press office is developing an information pack to be issued to all local screening programmes and is also developing a public relations strategy, including articles in appropriate media publications and posters. In addition, Cancer Research UK has commissioned research on this issue, which we will monitor closely. We will share the findings.

Continued local action in this area is also essential, and we will continue to monitor levels of cervical screening coverage through the Office for National Statistics/Information Centre for health and social annual Cervical Screening Statistical bulletin.