Research Article

Preliminary results of a district call scheme for cervical screening organised in general practice.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 26 November 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:1384
  1. C. M. Havelock,
  2. J. Webb,
  3. J. Queenborough
  1. Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, Berkshire.


    A recognised problem with the cervical screening programme in the United Kingdom is the failure to include women who have never had a cervical smear test, who are a high risk group. The implementation of a district based call scheme in East Berkshire in 1986 is described whereby women aged 20-64 with no record of a cervical smear test who were judged to be eligible for testing by their general practitioner were sent a personal invitation from their general practitioner to attend for a test. A list of high risk unscreened women was kept by each practice, and a duplicate sent to the cytology laboratory to update the central records. Six months after each batch of invitations had been sent the resulting number of women having a smear test was assessed. Forty three of 51 practices approached agreed to participate in the five year scheme. During the first year lists were sent to the 43 participating practices. The first list was returned to the cytology laboratory by 37 practices and the second by 33; practices varied in their responses, however, some needing considerable persuasion to return the lists. Of 972 identified unscreened women from the total 3757 women listed in the lists of the family practitioner committee, 247 (25%) had a cervical smear test in response to the invitation, representing an overall increase of 7% in the screened population. The preliminary findings of the five year study have shown that screening can be improved by a systematic call scheme. Coordinated support from the area health authority in health education, monitoring of screening, and feedback of data from the scheme to practices is required to reduce the proportion of unscreened women.