§ 3.2 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress is being made with the scheme for carrying out tests designed to detect early signs of cervical cancer.]
My Lords, good progress is being made. About 39,000 women a month are now being tested, and the service is being extended as more staff are trained. Already, about 200 pathologists and 150 medical laboratory technicians trained in cytology are available, and more are in training or awaiting places on the courses. Of the hospital laboratories handling this work, about one quarter are expected to be able to support a routine screening service some time this year.
My Lords, may I thank my noble friend for the very encouraging nature of his reply? He has given us a monthly figure. I wonder whether he could give us any idea of the number of tests likely to be carried out in any convenient twelve months' period; and, also, of the number of technicians who may be trained during the coming year, or who will be trained by the end of this year.
Yes, my Lords. Such tests are now running at an annual rate of about 470,000 a year, which is a very substantial number. With regard to the technicians in training, as I have said, 150 have already been trained, 72 are actually in training at the present time, and 103 have been nominated for future training courses. There are five training centres now available. These are open to all the Regional Hospital Boards and are, I think, adequate to meet the demands for training.
My Lords, may I once again thank my noble friend for the satisfactory nature of his reply? In view of it, as I appreciate that the Government are evidently taking this matter very seriously, it would be ungracious of me to press him further.