FSRH press statement: cervical screening rates drop fourth year in a row

Posted 7 December 2018

Date: 07 Dec 2018

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

FSRH is concerned about the reported decrease in cervical screening rates for the year 2017-18 in England.

Latest figures by NHS Digital for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme 2017-18 show that only 71.4% of eligible women (aged 25 to 64) were screened at the specified period, a decline from 72% at March 2017.

Even lower are rates in the younger age bracket (25-49), when there is higher risk for cervical abnormalities, with coverage at only 69.1%. This is the fourth consecutive year that coverage has declined, staying below the national target of 80%.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK every year. Incidence rates for cervical cancer in the UK are highest in young females. Around 99.8% of cases are preventable.

Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“It is very important that women keep attending their screening appointments when invited, as it is vital for detecting early changes to the cervix and early treatment to prevent development into cervical cancer.

We need an enabling environment where women can access this life-saving test easily. However, cuts to sexual and reproductive healthcare funding and a fragmented commissioning system have created extra barriers for women to access cervical screening.

FSRH members have been consistently reporting that women are being turned away from sexual and reproductive healthcare services. These services have become too stretched to manage to deliver what is currently in their service specifications. In many cases, cervical screening is not included in their contracts. In turn, GP practices are not able to effectively meet the extra demand.

These factors along with women’s concerns about the procedure, such as embarrassment and fear of results, can be driving coverage down.

To improve coverage, we need to make it easier for women to access these services through an opportunistic whole-team approach to health screening. It is also important that service specifications for sexual and reproductive healthcare services include cervical screening, which would help significantly lighten the burden on GP practices and increase access and choice for women.”


Notes to editors:

  • Latest figures by NHS Digital for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme 2017-18 can be found here.
  • Cancer Research UK figures can be found here.
  • The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. For more information please visit: www.fsrh.org

For further information please contact:
Camila Azevedo
FSRH External Affairs & Standards Officer
Email: externalaffairsofficer@fsrh.org
Telephone: 02037945309