NHS Cervical Screening Programme: Quality Assurance

The NHSCSP published national quality assurance guidelines for the cervical screening programme in 1996, and has a regional system of quality assurance which includes:

  • a quality assurance director for cervical screening
  • the identification of lead professionals to oversee coordination of audit in each area of professional activity in the cervical screening programme
  • the review of the performance of the screening programme against national quality standards
  • participation in external quality assessment schemes
  • an administrative structure including a quality assurance reference centre to coordinate professional activity, statistical returns, and liaison with national activities
  • the development of training programmes within the region and support of training efforts in each laboratory and regional cytology training schools
  • liaising with regional cancer registries to identify and audit cases of invasive cervical cancer to evaluate the effectiveness of the screening programme

Regional quality assurance coordinating groups have been established. Each region is represented on the national quality assurance coordinating groups for each of the four main areas of activity in the cervical screening programme. These groups cover health authority activities, laboratories, colposcopy and primary care. Their remit is to:

  • set quality assurance standards
  • monitor and review performance against these quality assurance standards
  • identify training needs and advise on how they should be met
  • identify research needs
  • advise the programme on professional matters

Regional Quality Assurance Reference Centres

  • North East Yorkshire & the Humber QARC
  • North West QARC
  • East Midlands QARC
  • West Midlands QARC
  • South Central QARC
  • South East Coast QARC
  • South West QARC
  • East of England QARC
  • London QARC