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Cervical screening rates 'broadly similar' to a decade ago

Around one in five eligible women in England have not had cervical screening in the past five years.

The figures are “broadly the same” as ten years ago.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows as of March 2012 78.6% of women aged 25 to 64 years old had been screened once in the past five years - this is down from 81.6% in 2002.

The report Cervical Screening Programme, England, 2011-12 found for 25 to 49 year-olds - who are invited for cervical screening every three years - coverage was at 73.5% at March 2012. This is compared to 73.7% in 2011 and 71.7% in 2002.

For 50 to 64 year-olds - who are invited for screening every five years - coverage was at 77.8% at March 31 2012, compared to 78% in 2011 and 81% in 2002.

“Today's figures provide invaluable information about cervical screening in England - as without good quality information it is impossible to clearly measure the reach of such a vital programme,” said HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan.

“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.”

Cervical screening coverage also varied between England's 10 strategic health authorities (SHAs), with the highest reported coverage in the East Midlands at 81% and the lowest in London at 74.1%.

The number of women invited for a screening test in 2011-12 increased by 8.4% to 4.7m on 2010-11 figures.