FSRH statement: NHS Digital releases 2020-2021 data for the Cervical Screening Programme in England

Posted 16 December 2021

Date: 16 Dec 2021

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

NHS Digital has published its annual figures on the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. The data shows a 2% decrease in the number of women aged 25 to 64 who took part in the screening programme between April 2020 and March 2021 compared to the previous period. Cervical screening uptake continues to fall way below the national 80% target, with 70.2% of eligible individuals adequately screened in 2020-21.

Screening also decreased among the 50 to 64 age group, from 76.1% in 2020 to 74.7% in 2021.

NHS Digital’s report on the figures cites COVID-19 measures as being responsible for the decrease in screening, with higher than normal levels of tests being seen from the summer of 2020 when restoration of the Cervical Screening Programme began.

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

“Cervical screening is a vital test to detect early changes to the cervix, in order to prevent development into cervical cancer.

“Ensuring access to cervical screening is important to ensure women are not put at risk of a preventable cancer.

“It is worrying, if not unsurprising, that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on cervical screening coverage. Given the health service will continue to be under even greater strain due to the Omicron variant, it is important that we work to ensure screening coverage does not further decrease.

“We should also look at ways to improve coverage by integrating screening with other routine sexual and reproductive health services – such as coil fittings and examinations –  structuring care around the needs and availability of women.”


For further information please contact Catrin Hughes, FSRH External Affairs and APPG Manager at chughes@fsrh.org

Notes to editors:

  • The NHS Digital 2020-2021 data for the Cervical Screening Programme in England can be found here: Cervical Screening Programme, England - 2020-21 [NS] - NHS Digital
  • 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 BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.