HPV testing to be included in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme from 2011

Published 7th January, 2011

The NHS Cervical Screening Annual Review, published today, confirms the announcement made in the NHS Operating Framework 2011/2012 that from April 2011 Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing will be incorporated into the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. HPV testing will mean that screening can be more effectively targeted, reducing unnecessary procedures and the anxiety that they may cause for women. HPV testing will now be used for 'HPV triage' of women with borderline or low grade cervical abnormalities, leading to greater efficiency and accuracy across the wider NHS Cervical Screening Programme. This decision comes after several years of work through the HPV pilot scheme and the Sentinel Site Implementation Project, which analysed how to incorporate HPV testing into the screening programme most effectively.

Dr Tanya Levine, Programme Director and Consultant Cellular Pathologist at North West London Hospitals NHS Trust (one of the Trusts which took part in the Sentinel Site Implementation Project) commented: "HPV testing has embedded really well within our screening programme and has had a positive impact on the service we provide to patients. We have minimised unnecessary surveillance, while maintaining excellent diagnostic and treatment services."

Professor Julietta Patnick CBE, Director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: "We look forward to working with PCTs and Trusts to roll out HPV triage during 2011, as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. By incorporating HPV testing into our current screening programme in this way, we will be able to significantly reduce the number of repeat cytology tests required and to target our colposcopy services more effectively. This is an important development in our programme enabling us to screen women more effectively and efficiently, reducing unnecessary procedures and minimising any associated anxiety."

Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, said: "The coalition is committed to improving cancer outcomes and delivering survival rates that are amongst the best in the world. Screening is vital to this. HPV triage is part of the continuing improvement and development of this world class service, and will lead to a more patient centred and efficient service."