The NHS findings show that only 69.9% of eligible women between the age of 25 and 64 took up the offer of free cervical screening last year. The figure is the second annual drop in a row – following a fall from 72.2% in 2019–2020 to 70.2% in 2020–2021.
Current regulations stipulate residents of the UK are screened for cervical abnormalities from age 25 onwards.
A recent petition that failed to receive enough signatures attempted to lower the age of cervical screenings in the UK, reinforcing the important message that they help to detect human papillomavirus (HPV), which, if left undiagnosed, can mutate into cancer. This virus is widespread in much younger women, highlighting the importance of implementing testing as soon as possible.
Bearing this in mind, the Global Health Inequalities Report by the experts at Radar Healthcare has analysed 35 of the most developed countries around the world to highlight which healthcare systems offer cervical screening tests to women at the youngest age.
Austria takes first place in the report, offering cervical screening tests from 19. Current regulations stipulate residents of New Zealand, Spain, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Japan, Germany, and South Korea are screened for cervical abnormalities from the age of 20 and onwards, taking second place in the report.
The UK was joined in 5th position in the report by Australia, Norway, France, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, Lithuania, Israel, Greece, Hong Kong, Poland, Malta, US, Singapore, and Liechtenstein–that all offer screening from the age of 25.
The UK also screens females for cervical abnormalities from around 39 years until the age of 69–a relatively low timeframe compared to countries such as South Korea, New Zealand and Austria, which offer screenings for 54 and 50 years, respectively.