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Cervical Cancer Screening


NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Scottish Cervical Screening Programme

Cervical screening was introduced in Scotland in the 1960s. Although large numbers of women were offered tests, the service at this time was not introduced as a population based programme. In 1978 committees were established by the UK Department of Health and a review was carried out in Scotland resulting in the Strong Report.

The national cervical screening programme was introduced in Scotland in 1988 with the aim of reducing the incidence of invasive cancer of the cervix. Cervical screening is offered to eligible women aged 20-60 every three years. Women with an abnormal screening history will continue to be invited for follow-up as appropriate.

Cervical screening can identify cell changes which may develop to be pre-cancerous in women who otherwise have no symptoms; at this stage, any changes can be easily treated, and treatment is usually very effective.

In May 2007, following a review of local call recall arrangements in Scotland, a new national IT system, the Scottish Cervical Call Recall System (SCCRS), was introduced across NHS Scotland.

The report from the most recent National Statistics publication can be found on our Publications page.

Scottish HPV Immunisation Programme

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is designed to protect against types of HPV that cause around 70% of the cases of cervical cancer in Scotland. The vaccine does not protect against all cervical cancers, so regular cervical screening is still important. The HPV Immunisation Programme in Scotland started on 1st September 2008. Further information, including uptake statistics, are available on our Immunisation page.

Review of the Current Scottish Cervical
Screening Programme Statistics Publication

In the August 2014 publication, we advised that we planned to review the content and format of the cervical screening publication with the aim of focussing on patient outcomes rather than laboratory workload statistics. We had hoped to include these changes in this publication (September 2015). However, this work is taking longer than anticipated due to technical issues extracting the information, so rather than delay the publication we have decided to publish in the same format as 2014. It is still planned to make changes to future publications. If you would like to feedback any comments or suggestions for future publications please contact ISD at

Key facts

At 31st March 2015:

  • Of eligible women, 70.4% had been screened in the previous 3.5 years, this is 0.3 percentage points lower than the 31st March 2014 figure (70.7%).
  • Compared to 31st March 2014, uptake rates have decreased slightly in all the mainland boards except for NHS Lanarkshire. All NHS Boards have a lower uptake rate compared to 5 years ago (based on the pre-2006 configuration of Health Boards)

In 2014-15:

  • 397,673 cervical screening tests were processed within the programme which is an increase of 3.5% compared to 2013-14.
  • Of all tests processed, 97.3% were of satisfactory quality. Of satisfactory results, 91.0% had a negative result, 7.7% had a low grade cell change and the remaining 1.3% had high grade cell changes.
  • The lowest laboratory turnaround time for processing cervical screening tests was found in quarter 2 (July to September), when 95% of tests were processed within 20 working days.

Tables and charts

IMPORTANT: The following tables and charts are based on the pre-2006 Health Board configuration (former Argyll & Clyde). Figures for NHS Highland do not include the Argyll & Bute area and figures for NHS Greater Glasgow do not include the Clyde area.

Annual data:

  • Annual uptake data Download Excel file [119KB] up to 31st March 2015 by NHS Board of Residence
  • Annual workload data Download Excel file [104KB] up to 31st March 2015: number of screening tests processed, percentage of unsatisfactory screening tests and results by NHS Laboratory

Quarterly data:

Historical data: to 31st March 2007

Cervical cancer incidence and mortality Download Excel file [120KB] trends in incidence rates (all ages combined), and by age group and stage of disease; and trends in mortality rates (all ages combined)

Cervical screening links

Cervical cancer statistics : detailed incidence and mortality data, lifetime risk, prevalence and survival statistics.

NHS Cervical Screening Programme (NHSCSP) : general information and publications relating to cervical screening in the UK.

Cervical Screening - National Overview (November 2003) Download PDF file [484KB]: report produced by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland.

National Services Division (NSD) , which has responsibility for providing the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme.

Scottish Cervical Call Recall System (SCCRS)

Information about cervical Screening

Cervical Screening information available here : leaflets produced by Health Scotland

Cervical Screening Data Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions relating to the cervical screening programme are available here Download PDF file [15KB]


Glossary of Cervical Screening terms relating to the data on this websiteDownload PDF file [34KB]

Details of data sources

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