New targets set for cervical screening

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 23 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:728
  1. Owen Dyer

    The National Health Service's cervical screening programme has set itself rigorous new standards after a major internal audit of its shortcomings. In 1992 the National Audit Office compared the programme unfavourably with Britain's breast screening programme. Julietta Patnick, then in charge of the breast programme, became the first national coordinator of the cervical screening programme and convened a working party on unified national standards and targets. Its report, Quality Assurance Guidelines for the Cervical Screening Programme, was released this week.

    The group, which was chaired by Dr John Pritchard, chief science officer at the Welsh Office, has set minimum targets for centres throughout England. These include 80% coverage of women aged 25 to 64. To reduce the burden on cytologists and give trainees adequate practice, the report demands that no screener should examine fewer than 3000 or more than 7500 smears annually.—OWEN DYER, freelance journalist, London.

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