HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 cc508-10W
Mr. Crouch

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what provision he intends to make for computers to recall women for a screening test for cervical cancer.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I am pleased to announce today, details of a computer scheme to provide local recall arrangements for cervical cancer screening. The Department and the Department of Industry are making £500,000 available to regional health authorities for the purchase of mirco computers for cervical cytology recall. Each regional health authority in England will be offered at least one micro computer to be used by a family practitioner committee for recalling women due for a cervical smear.

It is important that women at risk of cervical cancer are examined regularly. The introduction of computers will help ensure that women who have had a cervical smear will be recalled regularly every five years. This initiative shows the Government's commitment to preventive medicine and, in particular, cervical cancer screening.

Each of the 14 regional health authorities in England will be offered one micro computer, with a second one as funds permit for the regions where proportionately fewer women have in the past been included in the cervical screening programme in the order Mersey, South Western, Northern, West Midlands, East Anglia and Yorkshire. The regional health authority, in consultation with the district health authorities and family practitioner Committees, will allocate the micro computer to a family practitioner committee which will run a local recall scheme. The computers are expected to be in use towards the end of the year.

Government funds will pay for the development of a computer system at the Exeter family practitioner service computer unit and will meet most of the installation and maintenance costs for three years of the micro computers to be allocated. Health authorities will be expected to spend up to £3,000 per micro computer installation as a contribution towards these costs. The same software package will be available free of charge for cervical cytology recall elsewhere but health authorities will have to buy the hardware at normal prices.

Numbers of patients on in-patient waiting lists
Urgent cases Non-urgent cases
Date and Specialty Total On list for more than one month Total On list for more than one year Total Cases
31 March 1978
Geriatrics 1,556 604 3,706 269 5,262
Mental illness 443 303 1,441 368 1,884
Mental handicap 680 657 1,834 1,517 2,514
Child and adolescent psychiatry 45 41 288 32 333
30 September 1978
Geriatrics 1,272 679 3,280 317 4,552
Mental illness 559 300 1,409 238 1,968
Mental handicap 669 649 1,878 1,547 2,547
Child and adolescent psychiatry 29 17 266 34 295
31 March 1979
Geriatrics 1,746 800 4,311 318 6,057
Mental illness 475 239 1,668 346 2,143
Mental handicap 547 528 1,820 1,459 2,367
Child and adolescent psychiatry 50 34 254 29 304
30 September 1982
Geriatrics 742 388 2,335 284 3,077
Mental illness 547 419 1,861 462 2,408
Mental handicap 326 315 1,550 1,365 1,876
Child and adolescent psychiatry 24 17 128 5 152

Responsibility for operating the scheme for recalling women in priority groups—all those over 35 and those under 35 who have been pregnant on three or more occasions—who are due for a further cervical smear test is currently being transferred from the National Health Service central register to district health authorities. Many district health authorities are likely to use family practitioner committees as their agents.