Declining a smear or withdrawal from the NCSP

A request to withdraw from the NCSP must be made in writing by the woman.
Women who have had regular cervical screening and who are simply declining further smears do not need to be asked to ‘withdraw’ from the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP).

A smear taker or the woman herself can simply advise the NCSP-Register team that she does not intend to have any further smears, and this will be noted on her Register record. The smear taker should also record this in the patient recall notes.

The NCSP will update the woman’s record and no further reminder letters will be sent to her. It is important to note, however, that if the woman subsequently has cervical or vaginal cytology or histology tests, these will be received by the programme and her record will be updated.

If the woman is declining a single smear but intends to have further smears, the NCSP does not need to be advised.

Other circumstances where a smear taker or woman may advise the NCSP to update a record on the Register are where a participant is:

  • going overseas
  • too unwell for further smears.

The participant’s Register record will be updated and remain on the Register for future reference.

Withdrawing from the NCSP

If a woman no longer wants to participate in the NCSP and wishes to withdraw, the request must be made by the woman herself (not a third party, such as a smear taker). The request must be in writing and based on informed consent, in line with Section 112G of the Health Act 1956.

The consent form, explanatory notes and questions about withdrawal from the programme are available on the National Screening Unit’s (NSU’s) website here. Alternatively, these can be posted to a woman by the NCSP-Register team by phoning 0800 729 729.

When a woman is withdrawn from the programme, her record (apart from background details) is deleted from the Register and no further results will go on the Register unless she re-enrols in the programme. In order to re-enrol, a woman must again advise the programme in writing or complete a re-enrol form (also found on the NSU website).

Through increased understanding and awareness of the difference between declining a smear and withdrawing from the programme, the number of women withdrawing has reduced significantly over the last few years.

Accessing NCSP screening histories

Smear takers are reminded to access information about a woman’s screening history when taking a smear. This avoids unnecessary over-screening and ensures the smear taker has an accurate, up-to-date history.

Smear taker recall and overdue cervical smear reports

Smear takers can opt in or out of receiving recall and overdue cervical smear reports. Please advise your local regional service by free phone 0800 729 729 or fax them.

NCSP letter review

The Ministry of Health and the Register Central Team have completed a review of all the letters sent to participants in the NCSP. The total number of letter types has been reduced and slight changes made to letter content to ensure they are appropriate for all situations.

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Page last updated: 29 August 2014