NHS Digital releases 2022-2023 data for the Cervical Screening Programme in England

Posted 24 November 2023

Date: 24 Nov 2023

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

Author: FSRH

NHS Digital has published its annual figures on the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.

This data shows that targets have been missed for the 19th consecutive year, with a 1.2% decrease in the number of women aged 25 to 64 who took part in the screening programme between April 2022 and March 2023 compared to the previous period. Cervical screening uptake continues to fall way below the national 80% target, with 68.7% of eligible individuals adequately screened in 2022-23.

Dr Janet Barter, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“It is so disappointing and frustrating to see cervical screening targets missed for the 19th year in a row. The cervical screening programme saves thousands of lives every year through early detection of changes to the cervix.

I would encourage anyone who is invited to attend a screening to book an appointment as soon as possible as it really could save your life.

If you are worried or nervous about your appointment, there’s lots that can be done to make your appointment more comfortable for you. For example, when you call to book, you can request a longer appointment to talk through all of your concerns beforehand. If you find the standard size of speculum is uncomfortable, you can ask your nurse to switch to a smaller speculum. You can even request to have a friend join you at your appointment if you would like. Your nurse is there to help you, they are highly trained and will do everything they can to make your experience a comfortable one.

Looking forwards, we must not only start to meet screening targets across the country but to surpass them. A lot needs to be done to improve access to cervical screening and this starts with addressing the systemic challenges around commissioning of cervical screening across all settings, this will also help to address the regional inequalities we are seeing, with huge variations in care between different local authority areas.

We call on the Government to listen to women in order to properly understand what will make cervical screening more accessible to them and work to provide culturally appropriate care tailored to them. We also call on the Government to implement and progress the Goals and Action of the FSRH Hatfield Vision, a roadmap to improve women’s health - not only around cervical screening but all areas of reproductive healthcare and deliver against our ambition to significantly improve reproductive health inequalities by 2030.”

Ends

For further information please contact Lorna Kelly, FSRH External Affairs Communications and Policy Manager at lkelly@fsrh.org

The NHS Digital 2022-2023 data for the Cervical Screening Programme in England can be found here.

More information on the FSRH Hatfield Vision can be found here.