Cervical Screening

NCL Wide
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  • Cervical screening is available to women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 in England.
  • The first invitation is sent to eligible people around the age of 24.5 years. People aged 25 to 49 receive invitations every 3 years. People aged 50 to 64 receive invitations every 5 years.
  • HPV primary testing as routine for cervical screening began implementation as a pilot in 2013 and full rollout was achieved in December 2019. Where the HPV virus is detected (a HPV positive result), a cytology test is then performed. If a woman has an abnormal cytology result they are referred to colposcopy.
  • HPV is a common virus which, although harmless in most women, is linked to the development of abnormal cervical cells. If left untreated, these abnormal cells can develop into cervical cancer.
  • The results of each test are sent to the call/recall department to send to the woman. Results are also sent to the woman’s GP or the sample taker (if not the GP). Women should be notified of their test results in writing within 2 weeks of the sample being taken.
  • Following a pause during the first Covid-19 lockdown, NHS Cervical Screening Programme (CSP) services resumed from June 2020 and are now fully up and running again. 
  • In addition, from January 2021, a number of GP practices across Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets (areas with particularly low cervical screening coverage) are now taking part in the YouScreen study until the end of 2021. YouScreen will assess the feasibility of integrating self-sampling into the NHS CSP for the first time and will help provide the evidence base for a new innovation in cervical screening.
  • YouScreen is providing these GP practices an opportunity to increase their  coverage by offering HPV self-sampling to non-attenders previously invited for a cervical screening. Increasing coverage is important because under screened and unscreened women are at the highest risk of developing cervical cancer. 
  • Local cervical screening pilots to improve uptake for non-responders are also taking place in Barnet, Haringey and Enfield. (Contact NCL Cancer Team for more information: lucy.mclaughlin@nhs.net or beth.dahill@nhs.net). Cervical screening: programme overview (www.gov.uk)

Helpful information,resources and updates for GPs, Practice Nurses and GP practices 

  • From August 2019, the Cervical Screening administration service, formerly PCSE is managed by the NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS). More information on NHS Cervical Screening Administration Service website. Appointments are through GP practice.
  • Sample takers are encouraged to complete this Primary HPV e-learning
  • All cervical sample takers should be registered with the pan-London Cervical Sample Taker Database (CSTD). Once registered you can upload your training and certificates in the ‘Submit Training Record’ section and this can then be viewed in ‘Your Details.’
  • Cervical Screening Sample Taking Training (to be added when available).
  • Opt-out of cervical screening:
    • If a woman wishes to opt out of cervical screening, consider the barriers to attending screening and provide patient with this leaflet on cervical screening
    • Opting out involves a patient making an informed choice and requires her signature, so GPs are required to send a letter or email to Primary Care Services England (PCSE) at Pcse.screening-leeds@nhs.net. They will send the patient information on opting out and request a signed letter from the patient. PCSE then notifies GPs electronically (via Open Exeter) once PCSE has received the signed form.
  • Clinical guidelines: Cervical screening in HIV women

For more related information, see the following pages on this website: 

Eligibility criteria


Eligibility Criteria for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme

  • age 25-49: invitations every 3 years
  • age 50-64: invitations every 5 years
  • age 65+ year: only those not screened since the age of 50 or who have had recent abnormal tests
  • trans men (assigned female at birth) do not receive invitations if registered as male with their GP, but are still entitled to screening if they have a cervix
  • women younger than 25 should not be screened as part of the NHS cervical screening programme
  • if a woman younger than 25 presents with symptoms indicative of possible cervical cancer, refer to the DoH guidelines on screening young women

Eligibility for YouScreen 

• women in participating GP Practices in Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets who are overdue their NHS CSP screening by at least six months

How to refer


Invitation by letter

  • All eligible people who are registered with a GP (as female) will receive an invitation by mail inviting them to make an appointment, along with further information about cervical screening.  Appointments are mostly through GP practices.

YouScreen self-sampling kits

  • YouScreen self-sampling kits will be offered to women in participating practices in two ways. Either direct mailing to women overdue their screening by 15 months, identified through the national cervical screening database, or through the GP practice for women overdue by at least 6 months. Completed samples are returned postage free for testing by the Cervical Screening London laboratory.

External Links

Service Feedback

Contact Name

NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit


w: https://www.csas.nhs.uk/


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Last updated: Jul 13th, 2021
Review date: Jun 19th, 2022