Headlines: August 26th, 1998

Rebuilding women’s confidence has been identified as a key task ahead of the

NHS cervical screening programme.

NHS managers are also being advised to improve the status and pay of the
trained staff whose job it is to check smears, after several well-publicised

The findings come in the report of the Cervical Screening Action Team,
established to strengthen the cervical screening programme after failures at the Kent and Canterbury NHS Trust and elsewhere.

The team, including members from relevant professional bodies, the Women’s
Nationwide Cancer Control Campaign and the National Co-ordinating Office of the Cervical Screening Programme, has monitored action to improve the quality of and public confidence in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.

The team found that generally, improvements in checks on laboratories and
people involved in smear testing had made the service better, but that now a
public awareness campaign was needed.

Dr Mary Buchanan of the Women’s Nationwide Cancer Control Campaign said: “It is so important for women to continue to go for screening because it is saving lives. But it is equally important that women should be told what the screening programme can and cannot do, and they should be encouraged to ask for more information if they are unsure about anything to do with screening.”

The team also recommended that family doctors and practice nurses should be
better briefed about screening, as these are often the first people seen by
women who have questions about smear testing.