Cervical Screening Rates Fall in NHS Fife

Following the publication of the annual cervical screening statistics for Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker is urging women across Fife to ensure they are up to date with their screening appointments.

The figures from Public Health Scotland show that across Scotland, the uptake rate for cervical screening in females aged 25-64 was 69.3%, down from 71.2% in 2020, while in Fife uptake fell from 72.2% to 70.3%. Uptake in the NHS Fife area for women aged 25-49 was 68.4%

Those from the most deprived areas are less likely to take part in screening, with uptake of 63% compared with 74% in the least deprived areas. Younger women are also less likely to participate, with uptake among 25-29 year olds at 55.4%.

Claire Baker has also written to NHS Fife seeking clarification around arrangements for routine screening appointments following the introduction of HPV screening in March 2020.

Claire Baker, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said:

“While it may not be surprising that screening attendance has fallen, these figures should be a wake-up call that  more needs to be done to encourage and increase uptake.

“Cervical screening attendance in Fife is 70.3%, meaning one in four women don’t attend when invited. While a test may involve some discomfort, it can save your life.  Smear tests can prevent cervical cancer and I would encourage all women to make sure they are up to date with their smear tests.

“The impact of covid has only increased the gap in attendance between the most and least deprived groups and we cannot let this inequality continue. The lower rates of uptake among younger women is also a concern and must be addressed.

“I have been pushing the Scottish Government on the use of self-sampling and we need to see increased use of innovative solutions like this to increase participation, alongside clear information on when people will be called and why so they can make informed decisions on their healthcare.“

Regarding her letter to NHS Fife, Claire Baker added:

Following the introduction of HPV screening, routine screening has been extended to every five years for 25-64 year olds, but this should only apply to women only once they have been screened using the hr-HPV primary screen and received a negative result.

“I have been contacted by constituents who have been advised they will not be called for five years due to the introduction of HPV screening, despite their last appointment being prior to its introduction, so have written to NHS Fife seeking clarification on this.”