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Fifth of women still miss cervical screen

Older women less likely to have screening than a decade ago

Louise Prime

Thursday, 18 October 2012

One in five women, on average, are still not having cervical screening, the latest figures show – and coverage among older women is lower than it was 10 years ago.

Overall, in March 2012, fewer than four out of five eligible 25-64-year-old women in England had been screened at least once in the previous five years, found the report from the NHS Information Centre (HSCIC) – just 78.6%, which is similar to last year’s figures but lower than the 81.6% achieved a decade ago, in 2002.

Coverage for younger women, aged 25-49 years, was even lower than the average, at 73.5%. This is a slight increase since 2002, when it was 71.7%.

Although coverage among older women this year was better than among the younger group, at 77.8%, this is still lower than in 2002 when it reached 81.0%.

There was also some regional variation in coverage between the ten strategic health authorities; the highest for 25-64-year-olds overall was 81.0% in East Midlands, and the lowest was 74.1% in London.

Over the past year there has been considerable improvement in the speed at which test results are given, in 2011-12, 95.2% had an expected delivery date of within two weeks, compared with 78.9% in 2010-11.

HSCIC’s Chief Executive Tim Straughan said: “Today’s figures suggest that the proportion of women who have not had an adequate test within the last five years has remained broadly similar over the last decade – with about one in five not having screening within five years.

“If we drill down into the figures further, they point to lower coverage amongst 50 to 64-year-olds compared to 2002. However for younger women aged 25 to 49, although current coverage is a slight fall on the previous two years it is still higher than a decade ago.”

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