HC Deb 15 December 1980 vol 996 cc12-3
11. Mr. Coleman

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many cervical screening tests have been carried out for women in Wales during the period October 1979 to October 1980; and if he will list the age groups for whom this facility is available.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Statistics on cervical cytology tests are collected annually. A total of 126,150 tests were carried out for women in Wales during 1979. Tests are not restricted to particular age groups, but the present policy is that routine screening for cervical cancer should be offered to women older than 35 and those who have had three or more pregnancies.

Mr. Coleman

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Is he aware of the recent "TV Eye" programme which dealt with the subject and laid great stress on the fact that women in a much lower age range than he has just mentioned are seemingly more at risk? Will he encourage the extension of such testing to that age range and dismiss any suggestion that the service should be curtailed or even wound up?

Mr. Roberts

The hon. Gentleman is right in that the standard mortality figures suggest that cancer of the cervix is an increasing problem. Screening gives the opportunity to arrest the disease at an early stage. The present policy is to offer routine screening to women who are thought to be at high risk. The risk categories will be examined when the committee on gynaecological cytology has reported. Over half the tests carried out are for women under 35. The present screening policy will be reviewed in the light of the committee's recommendations.

Dr. Roger Thomas

Is the Minister aware that, according to the latest medical statistics, more positive results are being shown in women under 35 than women over 35, yet general medical practitioners are not paid for carrying out the examination on women under 35?

Mr. Roberts

The first step is to examine the present policy on screening in the light of the committee's conclusions. Then we can see what changes, if any, need to be made.