Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Colposcopy services in the West Midlands region.

British Medical Journal 1989; 299 doi: (Published 07 October 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;299:899
  1. C. B. Woodman,
  2. J. A. Jordan
  1. Department of Social Medicine, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston.


    A survey of all 72 consultant gynaecologists in the West Midlands region was carried out to determine their views on colposcopy services. All districts provided a colposcopy service and 47 consultants practised colposcopy. The consultants differed considerably in their views on criteria for referring women for investigation after smears. All but one thought that a positive smear result was an indication for immediate referral but whereas 55 thought that women with one or more inflammatory smear should be referred, 17 did not believe this to be necessary. Sixty seven consultants thought a preoperative colposcopic assessment desirable, but 10 had to ration referrals because of limited resources. Four forms of treatment were used: 17 districts had a carbon dioxide laser, eight used low voltage diathermy loop excision, two had only a cold coagulator, and one used only cold cautery. There was widespread dissatisfaction with resources and about the increasing amount of time spent on the service at the expense of other work. Consultants were also concerned about the relevance of much of what was done to the aim of the screening programme--reducing mortality from cervical cancer. Although additional resources are needed in some districts, referral policies, indications for colposcopic assessment, training, choice of treatment, and the value of follow up need to be reviewed if the service is to be improved.