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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-01510
Asked by: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 15 July 2021


To ask the Scottish Government what information has been provided to the public on the decision to extend routine invitations for cervical screening appointments from every three years to five years.

Current status: Answered by Maree Todd on 4 August 2021


On 16 March 2020, the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme replaced cervical cytology (looking at cells under a microscope) with a more sensitive test which screens for human papillomavirus (HPV). The new test is more effective at identifying those at risk of developing cervical cancer, meaning women who don’t have HPV will be invited for a cervical screening test every five years instead of every three.

A news release was issued by the Scottish Government to announce this change to the programme on 15 March 2020, and the information available on NHS inform and public information leaflets was updated to reflect the change.

Due to the impact of Covid-19, the cervical screening programme was temporarily paused on 30 March 2020. This meant that some of the communications materials that had been prepared to raise awareness of the move to HPV testing were not released until Cervical Screening Awareness Week in June 2021.

Later this year, the Scottish Government plans to launch a campaign to communicate the benefits of cervical screening. Further awareness raising of the move to five year routine testing will be undertaken to coincide with this campaign.