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National Services Division Commissioning for Scotland's Health

Scottish Cervical Screening Programme

Changes to the Age Range and Frequency of Cervical Screening

From 06 June 2016 changes to the age range and frequency of screening offered by the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme will be implemented.
For more information please follow the link below to access the Q&A paper developed by the Change in Age Range and Frequency (CARAF) communications group.

Changes to Age Range and Frequency - Question & Answer Document [Jun 16, 14 pages, 133Kb]


Cervical screening has proven to be an effective method of reducing the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer. Screening provides a test that involves checking cells in the cervix (neck of the womb) and a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test, where appropriate. The test is designed to pick up any changes so that they can be simply and effectively monitored or treated. Without treatment the changes can sometimes develop into cervical cancer.

Cervical screening is routinely offered every three years to women aged between 25 and 49 years of age and every 5 years to women aged between 50 and 64. Women on non-routine screening (where screening results have shown changes that require further investigation/follow up) will be invited up to age 70 years.

Cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives in the UK every year and prevents 8 out of 10 cervical cancers from developing.

Since 30 April 2012 as part of the Test of Cure pathway, women who have had treatment for CIN in Scotland will be tested for HPV at their next cervical screening test. This normally takes place six months after treatment. Women who have a test that shows normal cervical cells and no HPV (HPV negative) six months after treatment for CIN can return to routine three yearly screening.

Programme Leaflets and Information

Information on the Cervical Screening programme and the link between Cervical Cancer and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is hosted on the NHS Inform website which can be found by following the link below:

The Cervical Screening leaflet - 'A Smear Test Could Save Your Life' is hosted on the NHS Health Scotland webite. The leaflets are available in a number of languages and can be requested in alternative formats such as large print, braille and audio versions:

Scottish Cervical Call Recall System (SCCRS)

SCCRS is the central IT system, implemented in May 2007, which supports the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme. The SCCRS application, accessible by over 18,000 users over the secure NHS network, offers a single Scotland-wide database to support the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme. It is used by a wide range of NHS staff including General Practitioners, Nurses, Family Planning Consultants, Colposcopists. Gynaecologists, Laboratory scientists, Cytopathologists, Virologists, Consultants in Public Health Medicine and Call / Recall Office staff. SCCRS facilitates electronic screening test requesting and results reporting. Significant benefits are the instant availability of clinical information at the point of patient care and notification of screening test results to women. Access to the SCCRS application and User Sections are available to NHS professionals over a secure NHSnet connection:

Cervical Cytology EQA Scheme

The NHS Scotland Cervical Cytology EQA Scheme is a specialist service funded by NSD. From 2012 the scheme has two components:

  • Interpretive Assessment
  • Educational Slide Circulation

The aims of the EQA Scheme are to:

  • Contribute towards the establishment and upholding of minimum national standards in the cervical cytology.
  • Promote consistence in reporting across the country.
  • Facilitate continuing education and professional development within laboratories by providing regular access to interesting and relevant cytological material.
  • Enhance the experience and confidence of cervical cytopathology staff in their reporting practice.
  • Assist in meeting accreditation standards relating to EQA.

EQA Participant Guidance Manual

EQA Participant Guidance Manual, Sep 15 [22 pages, 277Kb]

Standard Operating Procedures

Administrative Procedures, Nov 14 [4 pages, 221Kb]

Participant Feedback and Action for Substandard Performance, Nov 14 [8 pages, 211Kb]

Scoring an Assessment, Nov 14 [6 pages, 188Kb]

Identifying Participants and Organising an Interpretive Assessment, Nov 14 [5 pages, 175 Kb]

Selecting Slides for EQA Set, Nov 14 [7 pages, 422 Kb]

Cervical Cytology Training School

The Scottish Cytology Training School is a specialist service with relevant elements funded by NSD.

NHS Lothian provides a variety of training and continuing professional development (CPD) courses ranging from Introductory to Advanced Practitioner Courses for relevant laboratory staff involved in the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme. These courses can also accommodate screening staff from out with NHS Scotland and are run from two centres, the BioQuarter at the  Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.

Futher information and details of courses for the Scottish Cytology Training School can be found by following the link below:

National Services Division contacts:

To contact members of NSD staff, please visit our staff contacts page.

Tracey Curtis, Senior Commissioning and Screening Programme Manager
Lesley Bogan, Programme Support Officer