Cervical Screening

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Under Review — this page was due to be reviewed by Sunday, 19 June 2022. The information shown here may be outdated.

Cervical screening is available to women and people with a cervix aged 25-64 in England.

The first invitation is sent to eligible people around the age of 24. People aged 25-49 receive invitations every three years. People aged 50-64 receive invitations every five 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 patient has an abnormal cytology result, they are referred to colposcopy.

HPV is a common virus which, although harmless in most patients, 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 patient. Results are also sent to the patient's GP or the sample taker (if not the GP). Patients should be notified of their test results in writing within two 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 patients 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

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

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

Eligibility criteria


Eligibility Criteria for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme

  • aged 25-49: invitations every three years
  • aged 50-64: invitations every five years
  • aged 65+: 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 patients in participating practices in two ways. Either direct mailing to patients overdue their screening by 15 months, identified through the national cervical screening database, or through the GP practice for patients overdue by at least 6 months. Completed samples are returned postage free for testing by the Cervical Screening London laboratory.

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