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International delegates told of HPV primary screening rollout challenges

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PHE screening team members and clinicians attended the 40th European Congress of Cytology  in Liverpool. 

A laboratory worker handling screening samples
Laboratory examination of screening samples

The conference was attended by more than 550 cytologists from around the world. It featured major sessions on HPV (human papilloma virus) primary screening and cervical screening. Several speakers discussed the scientific and logistical aspects of implementing HPV primary screening.

Public Health England and NHS England have an HPV implementation group and are developing plans for national rollout of HPV as a primary test for cervical screening. Dr Anne Mackie, PHE’s Director of Screening, told the conference that a full options appraisal has been commissioned.  Experts, including key opinion leaders in the relevant clinical fields, will contribute extensively to this. The options appraisal will look, in particular, at commissioning and laboratory configuration issues.

PHE, NHS England and clinical advisors are aware that the use of HPV primary screening might ease current problems with backlogs or other operational difficulties. As a result, PHE and NHS England have agreed a short-term mitigation plan to allow current HPV pilot sites to extend HPV primary screening to a larger proportion of their own population.

This will provide extra capacity by increasing the number of trusts that can offer to undertake temporary additional cervical screening work from providers that have backlogs. Trusts interested in this mitigation option can approach their commissioners.

The options appraisal is due to be completed in early 2017 and we will keep you informed of developments through the PHE Screening blog and joint communications with NHS England.

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