Resources for Health Professionals
Temporary changes to the way cervical screening samples are processed in the laboratory
Temporary changes to the way cervical screening samples are processed in the laboratory have been introduced from March 2023. This is to manage the current backlog.
Co-testing has been introduced as an interim measure on all samples sent as part of the Cervical Screening Programme. This means samples will be tested in a two-step process as follows.
1. Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing (for specific ‘high risk’ types of HPV), followed by
2. Cytology investigation (examination under a microscope)
Step 1 will be used to prioritise samples for cytology. If the sample tests negative for HPV the chances of a patient developing a cancer are very low. However, under these arrangements, all specimens will still undergo cytology in due course.
The new temporary process aims to manage the clinical risk caused by delays in cytology investigations by identifying those patients who are at higher risk of cervical cancer.
FAQS relating to temporary changes
GP Letter templates for use during period of temporary laboratory changes
These letters are for use by GP practices, when sending out results to women who have had a cervical screening test. Please note that the screening logo should be removed if the wording of the letter is altered.
|Negative||Mod-Severe Dysk||Refer to Colposcopy|
|Negative||Border-Mild Dysk||Routine Recall|
|Positive||Negative||Recall in 12 months|
|Positive||Mod-Severe Dysk/Border-Mild Dysk||Refer to Colposcopy|
General resources for the NI Cervical Screening Programme
Audit tool for Cervical Screening Sample Takers
- Audit of cervical samples taken in General Practice
- Northern Ireland Training and Audit Requirements for Cervical Sample Takers – document not available as under review
- A Guide to Understanding Sample Taking Performance Data
Cervical Cancer Audit
- Framework for the Audit of Invasive Cervical Cancers and Disclosure of Findings
- AIC Disclosure Record sheet
- Reviewing your Cervical Screening History leaflet
- Reviewing your screening history FAQs
Leaflets (link to leaflets hosted on PHA website)
- Its best to take the Test
- Cervical Screening: the colposcopy examination
- Reviewing your Cervical Screening History
Useful resources to make screening more accessible:
- A patient information video showing what to expect following a cervical screening invitation can be found at the link below:
This video is also available in:
- The charity Beyond Words has published a wordless picture story ‘An Easy Guide to Cervical Screening’. Click here to view a copy.
Signposting service users to other resources: