National Cervical Screening Programme

Freephone 0800 729 729
The National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) is delivered by a large number of providers across the screening pathway, from health promotion to cervical screening and treatment services.
Information on our website about the HPV screening programme is currently in the process of being updated. Please be aware that the below information may be outdated as we transition to new HPV primary screening process. Our team is working hard to ensure the most accurate and up to date details are made available. We anticipate having this new information live by the end of June.

For consumer information

If you're looking for information about cervical screening, visit Time to Screen or phone 0800 729 729.

If you need help finding support to screen, you will find information here: Screening Support Services.

Across the country there are approximately 7300 smear takers, mostly general practitioners and nurses and seven laboratories providing cytology, HPV and histology testing services to the programme.

The 20 district health boards (DHBs) are contracted by the NSU to provide colposcopy services. There is also the option to be seen privately for colposcopy.

Fifteen DHBs provide NCSP regional services, including regional coordination of NCSP services, health promotion, and liaison with key organisations and people relevant to cervical screening. Thirteen of the 20 DHBs have been contracted to provide NCSP-Register services. 

The National Screening Unit (NSU) also contracts 12 independent service providers to provide screening support services for those who need additional support to be screened or attend colposcopy services.

From July 2023, the primary test for cervical screening will change from cytology (testing the cells of the vagina or cervix) to human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, with the option of self-testing.

In November 2019 the NCSP raised the recommended starting age for screening to 25 years for any person with a cervix or vagina who has ever been sexually active. People aged 20–25 years who have already started screening, including those with abnormal cytology, will continue to be recalled and managed as advised by their health provider in accordance with the NCSP Guidelines.

Since the NCSP began in 1990 the incidence of cervical cancer has decreased by about 50 percent. In 2017 the incidence of cervical cancer was 6.1 per 100,000 women.

There has also been a steady decline in cervical cancer mortality since the NCSP began of about 60 percent. In 2016 cervical cancer mortality was 1.7 per 100,000 women.

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Page last updated: 05 October 2022