Every eligible woman should be able to access cervical screening if they wish to. Screening is offered to every woman between the ages of 25 and 64. It can prevent the development of cervical cancer and is estimated to save around 5,000 lives in the UK every year. That is why, during Cervical Cancer Prevention week, I am proud to support the #SmearForSmear campaign from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
I want as many people as possible to understand the importance of cervical screening and to feel informed and comfortable when getting their results.
Last year, the number of women accessing cervical screening hit an all-time low. I believe the Government should be investing in initiatives that make screening accessible and raises awareness of the reasons for screening, especially in some minority communities where data shows uptake of screening is significantly lower (Report of the Independent Review of Adult Screening Programmes in England, Nov 2019).
Every woman deserves to know about her right to access cervical cancer screening. Together we can talk more, spread the message and make cervical cancer a disease of the past.
To find out more see Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
As a result of this campaign, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to raise questions from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust research. I include the Government responses below:
All my written questions are available here.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that women with physical disabilities are able to access cervical screening services.
No woman should be unable to access screening services because they have a disability. NHS England is continuously investing in initiatives to help ensure equality of access to screening and, through the public health functions agreement (S7A), aims to improve public health outcomes and reduce inequalities.
General practitioner practices are required to ensure that their premises are suitable for the delivery of essential services and that they are sufficient to meet the reasonable needs of its patients, including those with disabilities. This involves making any necessary reasonable adjustments; making alternative arrangements, such as referral to a specialist screening provider; or undertaking the procedures in another setting that is more suitable given any limitations to a patient’s mobility. Where a patient requires specialist equipment, clinical staff will ensure that patients have access to its use in a safe environment.
Professor Richards’ review of National Adult Screening programmes was published on 16 October. As part of this review, it was recommended that good practice on physical disabilities is shared to enable this to be adopted more widely. The Department, NHS England and Public Health England are considering the recommendations of Professor Richards’ report as part of a wider Screening Improvement Programme and are intending to publish an implementation plan in spring 2020.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many girls in England have received the HPV vaccine since that vaccination programme began.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the uptake of the HPV vaccination by each classified ethnic group.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure that boys receive the HPV vaccination.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many boys in England have received the HPV vaccination since September 2019.
Since the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme in 2008 three million females have received the completed HPV vaccine course in England.
HPV vaccine coverage data is published annually by Public Health England (PHE) by dose and birth cohort (school year). Vaccine coverage data are not routinely collected by ethnicity.
PHE developed a range of resources and communication materials targeted at the public and health professionals to support the expansion of the HPV immunisation programme to boys. These materials were developed in close collaboration with National Health Service partners and a number of relevant stakeholders from charities and academia. The resources are intended to provide all the information necessary to help teenagers and their parents make an informed decision about the HPV vaccine. Local immunisation providers should share this information and signpost teenagers and their parents to these materials when the HPV vaccination programme is offered in schools.
Factsheets for school immunisation teams, headteachers and teaching teams and health professionals are available to inform parents and schools about the programme. As the programme is now universal, the fact sheet is aimed at boys and girls and gives information on the vaccination programme and is available at the following links:
In addition, PHE has also worked closely with several charities such as Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust to develop lesson plans for schools to use to teach young people about cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine. These are available at the following links:
NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned all school aged providers in England to deliver the programme to boys from 1 September 2019 – making this a universal programme. In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement central and regional Communications and Media teams, together with PHE, have and continue to develop campaigns targeted at boys in the eligible cohort, and their parents/guardians to inform and raise awareness of the availability of the vaccine.
HPV vaccine coverage data is collected annually. PHE will publish first dose HPV vaccine coverage in boys for the academic year 2019/20 in December 2020.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the uptake of cervical screenings by each classified ethnic group.
The information is not held in the format requested.
The latest data on coverage in the cervical screening programme can be found at the following link.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made potential merits of the NHS providing the option of self-sampling as part of the cervicalscreening programme.
The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC), the independent body that advises Ministers and the National Health Service in all four countries on screening matters, reviewed the evidence on the use of human papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling as a programme modification within the NHS cervical screening programme at its meeting in February 2019. The recommendation by the Committee recognised that self-sampling was a promising test but required further work to ensure its feasibility and value in the current screening programme. Minutes of the UK NSC’s meeting can be viewed at the following link:
The UK NSC welcomes any published peer review evidence that can support the use of self-sampling within the cervical screening programme.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the NHS England press release, entitled Potential to eliminate cervical cancer in England thanks to NHS Long Term Plan, published on 20 January 2020, if he will publish which (a) technology and (b) research will be in receipt of that funding.
The introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for girls, and for boys from 2019 as committed to in the NHS Long Term Plan, has reduced the incidence of cancer-causing HPV strains to below 2% in 16 to 18-year old women. Experts say that the vaccine offers the potential to eliminate cervical cancer completely.
As part of the Long Term Plan ambition to diagnose 75% more cancers at an earlier stage, the Department has funded £200 million for new equipment to drive earlier diagnosis of cancer and improve survival. More than 300 diagnostic machines will be funded across the country, replacing outdated MRI machines, CT scans and breast screening equipment with cutting edge technology.
The Department invests £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research, of which expenditure on cancer research was £132 million in 2018/19.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding he has allocated from the public purse to research on (a) cervicalcancer and (b) cervical cancer screening in each of the last 12 months.
The Department invests £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
NIHR’s cancer research expenditure has risen from £101 million in 2010/11 to £132 million in 2018/19. This constitutes the largest investment in a disease area.
As with other Government funders of health research, the NIHR does not allocate funding for specific disease areas. The level of research spend in a particular area, such as cervical cancer, is driven by factors including scientific potential and the number and scale of successful funding applications.