New annual figures on cervical screening show 3.50m individuals aged 25–64 were tested in 2021–22, up 15.5% on 2020–21.
NHS Digital is today publishing Cervical Screening Programme, England 2021-22, which presents information on individuals aged 25-64 who were invited for regular cervical screening.
The publication includes the numbers invited for screening, the number of tests on screening samples sent to pathology laboratories, the results of the samples taken, and the time taken to return results. It also shows the change in the Cervical Screening Programme’s coverage in England compared to previous years.
Disruption from Covid is not thought to have significantly affected the quality of the data submitted for 2021–22, however, changes in activity patterns within the programme during the 2020–21 to 2021–22 period will impact some statistics. Changes should therefore be interpreted with care2.
The 2021-22 report shows:
- A total of 5.12m individuals were invited for screening in 2021-22, an increase of 11.6% on 2020-21, when the figure was 4.59m.
- The number of tests carried out also increased with a total of 3.50m individuals aged 25 to 64 being tested – up 15.5% on the previous year, when 3.03m were tested.
- 69.9% of eligible individuals aged 25 to 64 had last been adequately screened within the required number of years. This represents a drop in coverage of 0.3 percentage points from the previous year when coverage was 70.2%.
- Coverage was lower in the 25 to 49 age group, decreasing to 67.6%, from 68.0% in 2021.
- In the 50–64 age group, coverage was higher at 74.6%, slightly down from 74.7% in 2021.
- Across both age ranges, regional coverage varied from 62.3% in London to 73.8% in the North East.
- The report also shows the number of individuals referred for colposcopy, a procedure to look at the cervix.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) primary screening was fully implemented in December 2019, which means that a sample is first tested for HPV and where the test result is positive, a cytology screen is then performed. Those who have an HPV-positive screen with an abnormal cytology result are referred to colposcopy.
In 2021–22, there were 235,223 referrals to colposcopy, an increase of 33.2% on the previous year when 176,561 were referred.