About one in five eligible women in England have not had cervical screening within the last five years – broadly the same as a decade ago – according to a Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) report.
At 31 March 2012, 78.6 per cent of eligible women aged 25 to 64 had been screened at least once in the previous five years. This percentage, known as coverage, is the same as the previous year but three percentage points lower than in 2002 (81.6 per cent).
Today’s report; Cervical Screening Programme, England, 2011-12, is used to inform policy and to monitor the quality and effectiveness of screening services.
It also presents information about the programme’s target age group (25 to 64 year-olds) as two sub-groups: 25 to 49-year-olds, who are invited for screening every three years, and 50 to 64-year-olds, who are invited for screening every five years.
For 25 to 49-year-olds, coverage was at 73.5 per cent at March 31 2012. This compares to 73.7 per cent in 2011 and 71.7 per cent in 20025.
For 50 to 64-year-olds, coverage was at 77.8 per cent at March 31 2012, compared to 78.0 per cent in 2011 and 81.0 per cent in 2002.
Coverage for the overall target group does not necessarily mimic the direction of change of the two subgroups, as it is a broader calculation based on women screened in the last 5 years.
The report also shows that among women aged 25 to 64:
- Coverage at March 31 2012 varied between England’s 10 Strategic Health Authorities, with the highest reported coverage in the East Midlands at 81.0 per cent and the lowest in London at 74.1 per cent.
- 4.7 million women were invited for a screening test in 2011-12, an 8.4 per cent increase on the 4.3 million invited in 2010-11.
- 3.6 million women were tested in 2011-12, a 6.3 per cent increase on the 3.4 million tested in 2010-11.
- 95.2 per cent of test results in 2011-12 were reported to have had an expected delivery date of within two weeks, compared to 78.9 per cent in 2010-11.
HSCIC’s Chief Executive Tim Straughan said: “Today’s figures provide invaluable information about cervical screening in England – as without good quality information it is impossible to clearly measure the reach of such a vital programme.
“Today’s figures suggest that the proportion of women who have not had an adequate test within the last five years has remained broadly similar over the last decade – with about one in five not having screening within five years.
“If we drill down into the figures further, they point to lower coverage amongst 50 to 64-year-olds compared to 2002. However for younger women aged 25 to 49, although current coverage is a slight fall on the previous two years it is still higher than a decade ago.”
The report can be accessed at: www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/cervscreen1112