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Cervical Cancer: Screening

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress his Department has made towards reducing the variation in cervical cancer screening coverage between primary care trusts; and what progress has been made towards increasing the uptake of screening of (a) poor communities and (b) black and ethnic minority communities. (248449)

The Cancer Reform Strategy, published in December 2007, a copy of which has already been placed in the Library, said that we wished to reduce the variation of cervical screening coverage between primary care trusts. National health service (NHS) Cancer Screening Programmes have commissioned the Improvement Foundation to work with six primary care trusts with deprived communities to develop and test initiatives to improve uptake. The Improvement Foundation are expected to deliver the outcomes from their work to NHS Cancer Screening Programmes by the end of 2009, and the lessons learned will be shared with strategic health authorities and local screening programmes to develop best practice.

There is a need to ensure that health inequalities are tackled with targeted programmes that increase the uptake of screening in deprived and black and ethnic minority communities. It is be for those primary care trusts with low uptake levels for cervical screening to develop targeted programmes to tackle any identified health inequalities.

NHS Cancer Screening Programmes and the university of Leeds have been working on a research project to provide guidance for communicating screening information to women from minority ethnic and low income groups throughout both the cervical and breast screening programmes. The final report is due shortly and NHS Cancer Screening Programmes will work with the university of Leeds to develop follow-up work to build on the findings.

To incentivise services to encourage higher coverage, the decision has been taken to explore having a tariff for cervical screening, along with breast and bowel screening. The Department is working closely with NHS Cancer Screening Programmes on a scoping exercise to inform this work.