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Cervical Screening Legislation Welcomed

Cervical Screening Legislation Welcomed

The Cancer Society welcomes new legislation to help to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP).

The urgent need for such legislation was first identified by the Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry in which the Cancer Society played an active part, says Betsy Marshall, cancer screening policy advisor to the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

“As highlighted by the inquiry, screening has the potential for harm as well as good, with failures in the NCSP having led to unnecessary suffering and loss of life.

“Routine evaluation, including the audit (review) of the screening histories of women who have developed cervical cancer, is essential to identify problems which, if not addressed, could cause harm to women.”

At the Inquiry, the Cancer Society recommended that programme evaluation, including audits, should be undertaken on a routine basis.

“The Gisborne inquiry identified barriers preventing access to information essential to routine evaluation and recommended legislation to remove these,” says Ms Marshall.

By removing such barriers, she says the new Act will help to ensure that the information needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of the programme is available to programme evaluators designated by the Director General of Health.

“Understandably, some women will have concerns about who has access to their confidential information and how it will be used. It is important, therefore, that all women are fully informed of who has access to their information, how this information may be used and safeguards provided by the bill to ensure that information used for evaluation is kept secure and confidential,” Ms Marshall says.

The Cancer Society is reassured that the new Act includes safeguards for women’s information and that programme evaluators are bound by strong confidentiality requirements.

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