Skip to main content

Primary care factors associated with cervical screening coverage in England


An article published recently in the Journal of Public Health by Dr Ji Bang and colleagues reported wide variations in cervical screening uptake, both across primary care trusts (PCTs) and also at general practice level. Rates were lowest in general practices with high proportions of women who are young, non-white, and deprived. The study showed that the proportion of female patients aged 25-49 years, the percentage of black and ethnic minority patients, and the Index of Multiple Deprivation score were all associated with significantly lower rates of cervical screening in both PCTs and individual practices. In contrast, the percentage of female patients aged 50–64 years was associated with higher uptake of cervical screening.

Dr Ji Bang suggested that “a multifaceted approach is needed that includes patients, physicians, individual practices and policy makers,” if cervical screening uptake is to be improved. She also stated that “Performance indicators, such as cervical screening coverage, can be substantially influenced by population factors such as age, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Using crude performance data to determine the quality of care provided by general practices and PCTs can be misleading. This is an important issue as the UK government has announced this year that the general practice performance data will be made available publicly in the near future.”

The authors concluded that the study illustrated that population and health system characteristics remain important influences on participation in preventative interventions such as cervical screening, even in a health system that offers free of charge access to universal healthcare.


The figure to the left shows the association between the percentage of women aged 50-64 and cervical screening rates in PCTs in England.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Can GPs issue private prescriptions to NHS patients?

The NHS prescription charge in England is currently £8.60 per item. At this level, many commonly prescribed drugs will cost less than the prescription charge and so some NHS patients may occasionally ask if they can have a private prescription rather than an NHS prescription.

In the past, some GPs have been advised that they could issue both an NHS FP10 and a private prescription, and let the patient decide which to use. But the British Medical Association's General Practice Committee has obtained legal advice that said under the current primary care contract, GPs in England may not issue a private prescription alongside or as an alternative to an NHS FP10 prescription. In any consultation where a GP needs to issue an FP10, the concurrent issue of a private prescription would be a breach of NHS regulations.

The issuing of a private prescription in such circumstances could also be seen as an attempt to deprive the NHS of the funds it would receive from the prescription charge. Fur…

What will Brexit mean for the NHS?

On the 29 March 2017, the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May, formally notified the European Union (EU) Council President, Donald Tusk, of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. Theresa May’s letter to Donald Tusk triggers a two-year process during which the UK will have to negotiate both the terms of its exit from EU and the arrangements that will replace those we have had for over 40 years with the other member states of the EU. The consequences of the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU (commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’) will be wide-ranging and will affect all areas of UK’s society, including the National Health Service (NHS).

For the NHS, Brexit comes at a time when it faces many other major challenges. These include severe financial pressures, rising workload, increased waiting times for both primary care and specialist services, and shortages of health professionals in many key areas (such as in general practice and in emergency departments). The NHS also faces challenges fr…

Dr Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, Speaks about AI in Healthcare

On 28 September 2017, I attended the Annual Institute of Global Health Innovation Lecture: Artificial General Intelligence and Healthcare, delivered by Dr Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines smart argued Dr Hassabis, so how can we make it improve the healthcare sector? Dr Hassabis then went on to describe the work that DeepMind was carrying out in healthcare in areas such as organising information, deep learning to support the reporting of medical images (such as scans and pathology slides), and biomedical science. Dr Hassabis also discussed the challenges of applying techniques such as reinforcement learning in healthcare. He concluded that artificial intelligence has great scope for improving healthcare; for example, by prioritising the tasks that clinicians had to carry out and by providing decision support aids for both patients and doctors. Dr Hassabis also discussed some of the ethical issues in using …