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Cervical Cytology and Screening

The change over from Open Exeter to a new NHS Digital management system for cervical screening, that was due to commence 1st November 2021, has now been delayed until 2022.

In the meantime, NHS Digital advise that it’s important to continue to complete all essential IT and Registration Authority (RA) prerequisites and provides are asked to do so by 1 December 2021.

Full details can be found at

Cervical Screening Campaign

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme has made a significant impact on cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year.

“Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease, which is 2 deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.

New research from PHE shows that nearly all women eligible for screening (90%) would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer - and of those who have attended screening, 9 in 10 (94%) would encourage others who are worried to attend their cervical screening. Despite this, screening is at a 20-year low, with 1 in 4 eligible women (those aged 25 to 64) in the UK not attending their test.” (PHE March 2019)

To help address this issue, in March 2019 PHE launched its first national multimedia cervical screening campaign. PHE Cervical Screening Campaign 2019

Our page aims to give additional information on a variety of topics related to cervical cytology including: -

Responding to Private HPV Self-sample Tests

The purchase of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling home testing kits is increasing. Results of these private tests will not be acted on by the NHS Cervical Screening Programme (NHS CSP) and cannot be recorded in an individual’s NHS screening record.

If a private test result is positive, the person should be advised that having HPV does not mean they have or will get cervical cancer.

HPV is common; over 80% of the population will get it at some point during their lives.

Individuals eligible for the NHS CSP remain so, even if they have had a private test. Most HPV infections clear themselves without causing problems. If someone has persistent HPV infection, it will be identified when they accept their next NHS CSP invitation.

Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over 10 years in three stages:

1.Infection with HPV

2.Development of abnormal cells if the immune system does not rid the HPV infection

3.Development of cancer if abnormal cells are not treated.

Eligibility of health professionals to train as sample takers

Taken from PHE Education Pathway (section 3.1)

The following UK registered healthcare professionals are eligible to train to undertake the role of cervical sample taker:

*Taking cervical samples is a delegated activity and the nursing associate works within the remits of their professional code. The screening provider must consider safety, quality, competency and the treatment of disease, disorder or injury (TDDI) legislation when deploying a nursing associate. When a nursing associate has registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), a registered professional listed under the legislation (registered nurse or GP) will need to supervise their practice. The individual who provides this professional support must be present at the GP practice in order to undertake indirect supervision of the nursing associate when carrying out the procedure.

Registered nurses, nursing associates, midwives and physician associates must complete a recognised theoretical course followed by a period of supervised training as described in this guidance.”

For additional guidance and information, you can refer to the standards and guidance for healthcare professionals and managers working in the NHS CSP. You can also keep up to date with information on new publications and guidance via the PHE Screening blog and subscribe for new content alerts.

Cervical Cytology and Screening - further guidance

Please click on the above image to access our document that will signpost you to national guidance in relation to Cervical Cytology and Screening. As well as the information provided on this webpage there are links to further information on:-

Cervical Screening Administration Service

Following the successful Phase 1 transfer of the Cervical Screening Administration Service (CSAS) back to the NHS in August 2019, Phase 2 involved the allocation of a new telephone number, the staff relocation to NHS run buildings, and the move to working on NHS systems.

The new telephone number for CSAS is now 0300 124 0248; the postal address remains as PO Box 572, Darlington DL1 9AG.

The quickest and most efficient way of contacting CSAS is by completing this online form.

Wessex LMC's recommendations

Training - Including Wessex LMCs Education & Training

Please contact Louise Greenwood at Wessex LMCs with any training or education queries.

We facilitate a range of face-to-face, on-line courses and Lunch and Learn sessions, the latter can be downloaded for learning within your practice team.

Cervical cytology trainers/assessors


Cervical cytology assessor/trainer

Training Hub



Salisbury & South Wiltshire


Devizes, Westbury, Warminster


Bath (PHE)



Wendy Lee until April 1st, 2021

Mary White from April 1st, 2021


Hampshire & IOW

Wendy Lee

Mary White


Training Providers

Useful Links and Publications

GOV.UK (Update Feb 2020) - Cervical screening: cervical sample taker training

PHE - Cervical screening professional videos on Vimeo

Cervical Screening - Colposcopy Management & Referral

NHS Cervical Screening Administration Service - CSAS

Education pathway - GOV.UK ( (Feb 2020)

NHS Screening Programmes - eLearning for Health for Health 

Jo’s Trust support for professionals

NHSE SOP for cervical cytology

NICE/CKS Scenario: Cervical Screening (Sept 2020)

PHE Screening blog updates

PHE HPV primary cervical screening pilot report published in BMJ

Skills for Health -  Obtain cervical cytology samples from individuals

PHE Screening (March 2020) - Updated guidance on the training of cervical sample takers 

Wessex LMCs – educational events


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Updated on Monday, 13 June 2022 3545 views