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National Cervical Screening Programme group meets

National Cervical Screening Programme advisory group has first meeting

Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi says a new advisory group, which met for the first time in Wellington today, will play a significant role in helping continually improve the country's national cervical screening programme.

The National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) Advisory Group is made up of eight members, which includes representation from health professional organisations who have collective wide knowledge and experience in the NCSP. Representatives will also be appointed to the NCSP advisory group from the Consumer reference group for screening programmes, and the Maori and Pacific advisory groups - both of which are soon to be established.

"The group is chaired by former Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioner's president, Dr Helen Rodenburg, and it will play a key role in helping the NCSP achieve its vision of saving lives and delivering a quality service that New Zealand women can trust," says Dr Poutasi.

"All members have invaluable sector knowledge, will provide independent, external advice to help improve the programme, and they are clearly very committed to making this programme the best it can be."

The group replaces a former external advisory group disbanded in late 2002, which provided advice for both the NCSP and BreastScreen Aotearoa screening programme. The revised structure means each programme now has its own advisory group, made up of members from health professional organisations.

Dr Rodenburg says: "The NCSP advisory group gives us an opportunity to work pro-actively to improve cervical screening, and ultimately health outcomes for New Zealand women."

The group discussed its terms of reference today and will continue to meet quarterly, with teleconferences in-between depending on requirements.

"The focus is to continually improve the quality of the service and safeguard standards of care. That includes providing independent advice on the programme's direction, consulting widely within their own constituent groups, and discussing research and development opportunities for the NCSP," says Dr Poutasi.

The National Screening Unit, which runs the NCSP and BreastScreen Aotearoa, recognises the value of external advice and seeks input from a range of sources to support its work.

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