NHS Digital reveals statistics showing decline of cervical screening coverage in England

Cervical screening coverage for women eligible for testing has fallen by 0.7 percentage points in the last year, according to statistics published by NHS Digital.

Latest figures for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme for the 2016-17 financial year show that coverage for women aged 25 to 64 was 72.0% as at 31 March 2017, down from 72.7% in 2016 and from 75.7% in 2011, when collection of age appropriate coverage began.

As at 31 March 2017:

  • Coverage for women aged 25 to 49 was 69.6%, compared to 70.2% in 2016.
  • For women aged 50 to 64, coverage was 77.2%, a decline from 78.0% in 2016.
  • At a regional level, coverage of the full target group (ages 25 to 64) ranged from 65.7% in London to 75.4% in the East Midlands.
  • All regions reported a fall in coverage when compared with 2016.

NHS Cervical Screening Programme in England in 2016-17 reports on screening intended to detect abnormalities within the cervix that could, if left undetected and untreated, develop into cervical cancer.

The publication includes statistics on women aged 25 to 64 who are invited for regular screening; screening samples examined by pathology laboratories, and referrals to colposcopy clinics.

Key findings for the target age group of women aged 25 to 64 included:

  • A total of 4.45 million women were invited for screening in 2016-17. This represents an increase of 5.6% from 2015-16, when 4.21 million women were invited.
  • The number of women tested in 2016-17 was 3.18 million, an increase of 2.9% from 2015-16, when 3.09 million women were tested.
  • The percentage of results showing a high-grade abnormality decreased with age. It was highest at 2.7% for women aged 25-29, falling to less than 0.5% for women aged 50 to 64.
Annual data will also be available for the first time through an interactive online tool, which will provide more detailed information to Clinical Commissioning Group level.
Data dashboards containing quarterly figures were developed by NHS Digital, Public Health England and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust earlier this year to help identify where screening levels could be improved and encourage work to boost coverage.