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HPV primary cervical screening - October 2018 update

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PHE is working to support implementation of HPV primary screening across England by 2020

Human papillomavirus (HPV) primary screening, sometimes known as primary HPV testing, is a new way of examining cervical screening (smear test) samples.

In 2016 it was announced that HPV primary screening will be implemented into the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, with full geographical coverage achieved across the whole of England by 2020.

Since our last blog, there have been some developments we’d like to share with you.

Laboratory services procurement

NHS England (NHS E) published a Prior Information Notice in mid-October 2018, informing the market of the intention to undertake a procurement process to support the implementation of HPV primary screening.

NHSE is running a national, one-stage open tender procurement process to find up to 13 providers for HPV laboratory services.

The invitation to tender will be published in November 2018 and NHSE is working towards contracts being awarded in April 2019 and starting from 1 July 2019.

Joint statement

The Institute of Biomedical Science, Royal College of Pathologists and British Association for Cytopathology published a joint statement in August 2018 following a stakeholder meeting with NHSE relating to HPV primary screening implementation.

Early implementation

Cervical screening laboratory staff are working hard across the country to continue to provide high quality screening for women during the transitional period to HPV primary screening.

To support staff, NHSE announced it will work with NHS Improvement and the screening quality assurance service (SQAS) to give all laboratories, working with their emerging pathology networks, the opportunity to implement HPV primary screening ahead of the start of the procurement process. This depends on laboratories meeting defined quality criteria and having a strong risk mitigation plan in place.

Getting ready for full implementation

Public information and communications

We are working with screening services, academics and charities to look at the current invitation and result letters and leaflets used in the programme for the public. The work will reflect the findings from a psychological evaluation carried out in the HPV primary screening pilot sites which looked at how women responded to being told about HPV primary screening.

Guidance updates

We continue to work hard to get the professional guidance ready for implementation.  In recent months we have updated the failsafe guidance and produced guidance on the cervical screening provider lead role.

Our main focus is on ensuring there is updated guidance to reflect HPV primary screening.  The HPV primary screening implementation guide will be the core document that will support roll out. This guide, which is currently out for consultation with our clinical professional groups, will build on learning from the HPV primary screening pilot sites and our existing mitigation guidance.

We are also in the final stages of developing e-learning training packages to support health professionals who will be involved in HPV primary screening and we will blog when these resources become available.

Working with our clinical professional groups, we are also updating our main laboratory and colposcopy guidance documents.

The cervical screening programme standards were published in September 2018 to provide a consolidated set of high level standards for the programme. We are already starting to collect data on the HPV primary screening sites and this will inform the development of future HPV primary screening standards.

New tests

PHE Screening, through its cervical screening laboratory technology subgroup and laboratory clinical professional group, gives evaluations of new HPV tests that offer potential advantages.

There have been some new additions to the list of approved tests used to screen cervical samples for high risk strains of HPV and national guidance will be updated shortly to give further information about how to use them. The two new tests are:

  • BD Onclarity HPV test (ThinPrep) performed on the BD Viper LT System.
  • Roche Cobas 6800/8800 HPV test (ThinPrep)

Next steps

Along with NHSE, PHE is committed to achieving world-class cancer outcomes by taking the recommended strategy implementation plan for England 2015 to 2020 forward. We are working hard to support full rollout across England by 2020.

PHE Screening blogs

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