National Cervical Screening Programme Sector Update - September 2022

Wednesday, August 31, 2022 - 15:25

Special Edition, Cervical Screening Awareness Month

Kia ora koutou

It’s Cervical Screening Awareness Month

Mahoe Medical Team staff
The fabulous team from
Mahoe Medical Centre, Te Awamutu
held a Smear Your Mea clinic
on Sunday 28 August, and over four hours,
they screened 97 wāhine and whānau.
Love your work team!

Cervical Screening Awareness Month is in September.

This month the focus is on increasing awareness and participation with cervical screening. We also want to celebrate you. Aotearoa has had one of the most successful cervical screening programmes in the world, and this wouldn’t be possible without you. Thank you for everything you do to support this very important mahi.

Throughout September we encourage you to create engagement opportunities in your regions to recognise this month’s focus. Please share the key messages in this and previous editions of Sector Update. If you need a list of these key messages, contact us on [email protected].

Also, there is a lot of information available on the Time to Screen website including a new page entitled Hey! Let’s Catch Up. This contains the social media Māori cervical screening campaign (see story below) which are a great video resource to share with wāhine and their whānau.

The Smear Your Mea (SYM) Facebook page here is also a great source of information. National Smear Your Mea Day 26 August 2022 marked five years since the late Talei Morrison was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Smear Your Mea is a strong, successful, and influential campaign in remembrance of Talei and to recognise its engagement with wāhine and whānau to emphasise the importance of cervical screening.

Hey, Let’s Catch Up!... with Cervical Screening

The NCSP’s Māori social marketing campaign to promote a safe return to cervical screening after the disruptions caused by COVID-19, is now live.

We launched the Hey, Let’s Catch Up! campaign across Facebook and Instagram to raise awareness about cervical screening and encourage wāhine and their whānau to return to screening.

Four videos are available on the Time to Screen website, and you can find them here: Māori cervical screening campaign.

The videos show young wāhine conducting a quiz about cervical screening; four wāhine discussing screening during a car journey; sisters discussing their experiences of screening; and older wāhine talking about the benefits of being screened.

The Māori cervical screening campaign tells real and relevant local stories by going to where wāhine Māori are. A whānau approach acknowledges the importance of whakapapa and the value of the whole family being supportive of cervical screening, alongside the wāhine.

The campaign acknowledges the sacredness of te whare tangata and the importance for wāhine to focus on their own health and that of their whānau. Finding the time for screening can be difficult but wāhine prioritising themselves is important so that they can be well for their whānau.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with comments received that this is a great way to communicate. Anecdotal evidence is that people are being inspired to share the videos with whānau.

The assets are resonating with communities with a high click-through rate back to the Time to Screen website, which indicates people are interested in learning more about the messaging.

We are looking forward to the continuing rollout of the campaign over the next few months. A campaign for Pacific peoples will be launched on 14 September.

What’s happening in the NCSP

NCSP Parliamentary Review Committee

The three-yearly NCSP Parliamentary Review has produced a very comprehensive draft and are in the final stages of the review process.

The committee expects to present its findings and recommendations to the Minister this month. The report will be tabled in Parliament following this meeting and will be publicly available.

Details on the review are available here: NCSP Review | National Screening Unit (

NCSP Advisory and Action Group

The NCSP Advisory and Action Group will be meeting face-to-face again in September. The Group provides strategic advice and guidance to the cervical screening programme, in particular for the implementation of HPV Primary Screening.

More information, including minutes from each hui, brief bios of the members and points of contact, will soon be available on the NCSP website.

New Support to Screening Services Web Page

We are getting closer to creating the new web page for our SSS teams.

We’ve been working on this for several weeks and aim to give details of training services available for sample takers, including a map showing where services are located, plus contact details for access points to those services.

Look out for more information about this in the October edition of Sector Update.

Updated Coverage Data Tools Now Available

The Screening, Insights and Analytics (SIA) team, within the National Screening Unit, are delighted to have published updates to the National Cervical Screening Programme and Breast Screen Aotearoa coverage reporting apps.

Two additional tabs provide data by ethnicity on:

  • numbers needed to screen to reach equity, and to reach Programme targets
  • and estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on coverage.

The apps are available at:

The tools are to support you, the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) and BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA) by providing information on programme coverage. Monitoring coverage is important for understanding how well the programme is performing and identifying where we could do better.

The programmes have a responsibility under Te Tiriti o Waitangi to eliminate differences in screening coverage between Māori and non-Māori. Our equity targets also include eliminating equity gaps for additional ethnic groups.

The tools will be refreshed quarterly. We’ve already received some positive comment about the tools, and if you have any questions regarding them please contact: [email protected]

SIA are engaged in consultation with data managers and users of these screening programme reports to continually improve what we provide and ensure we are meeting user needs.

NCSP Incidence and Mortality Report 2018 to 2019

The latest incidence and mortality report (2018-19) has now been uploaded on to the NSU website. It can be found here: Independent monitoring reports | National Screening Unit (

What’s happening with the HPV Primary Screening Project

July 2023 remains the target date for the move to HPV Primary Screening.

Sector Engagement

As we engage more closely with health professionals, we learn more about what the sector wants to know, and what information you require. We have been attending different hui to share information about the change to HPV Primary Screening and talk through what this means for you.

Our Sector Working Groups are a key part of this engagement and we have shared details below.

Sector Working Groups

The newly-realigned Sector Working Groups formed to support the Implementation Phase of the Project, have completed another round of hui.

The Screen Takers Working Group, Register Working Group, and Kaimanaaki Working Group met and discussed: readability of the draft NCSP Clinical Practice Guidelines for Cervical Screening, swab samples for HPV testing, the development of the new Register, notification strategy and data migration.

A number of new members were invited to join the groups in August, increasing membership reach into districts where there wasn’t representation.

The Laboratory Working Group will have its first meeting after the formal RFP process has concluded and we know which laboratories will be involved in the HPV Primary Screening and associated cytology work after July 2023.

A schedule of further meeting dates is being prepared for September and October. We will come back to you with more information as the Working Groups progress their work.

New HPV Primary Screening Resources

We have been working with the Māori and Pacific Resource and Campaign Advisory Groups (CAGs) to finalise the statement of work to contract a provider for the development of the public-facing resources needed for HPV Primary Screening.

The statement of work was largely guided by sector input from the survey we ran in June and July and enhanced with a Te Tiriti o Waitangi and equity lens as provided by the Māori and Pacific CAGs.

The statement of work also emphasises meeting the needs of LGBTQI+ communities and people with disabilities. It is our expectation that the successful provider has mechanisms and partnerships within communities to establish focus groups with the right voices to guide the mahi and develop resources that will work and resonate with these communities.

A procurement process for this project will begin in September and will include the Māori CAG Chair and Pacific CAG Chair as members of the procurement panel to ensure the successful provider has the right capabilities to deliver on this project and meet the needs of our priority groups.

We will keep the sector updated as this work progresses.

Updated Clinical Practice Guidelines

The newly-edited Draft NCSP Clinical Practice Guidelines for Cervical Screening in New Zealand are being shared with the Working Groups.

We are seeking feedback on readability and clarity of the new Draft, as the detailed consultation on the clinical pathway was completed last year.

Among other feedback we have received are some suggestions from The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, whose membership represents almost 40 percent of New Zealand’s specialist medical workforce.

General practice teams play a significant role in the cervical screening programme and clear guidelines are important for the successful implementation of the programme. The College strongly supports the cervical screening programme. Their comments have been very helpful, and we appreciate the time and effort in giving us their feedback.

Laboratory Update

Negotiations with laboratories are now underway following the evaluation of bids received under the request for proposals (RFP) for laboratory work required under HPV Primary Screening.

An announcement will be made soon on the outcome of those negotiations. The formal RFP process is therefore still active and Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand will not be commenting until negotiations have been successfully concluded.

Data Migration

The Screening, Insights and Analytics (SIA) team produce regular programme reports and respond to custom data requests. They are working on the HPV Primary Screening Project, particularly in the areas of data migration and reporting.

A data migration strategy has been signed off, which sets out our high-level approach to migrating data from the current Register to the new Register and are now starting the detailed planning and design phase.

SIA are working with the Screening Clinicians and the Project team to understand programme reporting requirements for the updated policies and standards and have started data mapping to ensure we have the data in the right systems to meet those requirements.

HPV Primary Screening in the News

The transition to HPV Primary Screening and the option of self-testing is beginning to gain more media attention. This article contained on Stuff went into some depth about the Project: The Whole Truth: Te Māramatanga (

The article is overall very positive and conveyed messages for the public that are helpful to understand what the transition aims to achieve.

Answers to Your Questions

We are receiving lots of feedback and questions to our [email protected] email address. We highlight recent queries below.

Q: Will people need to pay for self-tests?

The model approved by Government does not provide for HPV testing to be free.

While there is no procedure involved in clinical oversight, for the health provider, clinical oversight in the context of self-testing means: providing advice and getting informed consent; providing, coordinating, and receiving the test; ensuring all quality assurance measures are met; ensuring the lab request information is completed; and ensuring the participant is told of the test result and ensuring the result is followed up. 

The health provider will set any costs for visits to their practice.

Q: What are the current HPV vaccination rates in NZ?

This is an important question as high HPV vaccination rates are essential to the elimination of cervical cancer, and vaccination rates in general have been affected by COVID-19.

The Te Whatu Ora Immunisation Team advise they are currently working on this and hope to publish HPV vaccination data in the next few weeks.

We will let you know in a future Sector Update when this information is available

Key Messages

Key messages to share about the HPV Virus:

  • The National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) is changing the way cervical screening is undertaken in New Zealand
  • From July 2023 the primary test for cervical screening will change to a human papillomavirus (HPV) test
  • This new screening method will test for the presence of HPV, the cause for 99% of cervical cancers
  • Self-testing with clinical oversight will be an option for all participants and their whānau
  • The screening interval following a negative test will change to 5 years.

More information to give wāhine/whānau is available on the website here: Frequently asked questions | National Screening Unit (

Staying in Touch

If you have colleagues who would also like to receive this monthly update, they can join the distribution list by emailing us at [email protected]

We really appreciate your feedback and are here to answer any questions you may have.

Noho ora mai

Page last updated: 01 September 2022