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Good report card for National Cervical Screening

8 December 2003 Media Statement

Good report card for National Cervical Screening Programme

Health Minister Annette King says an Audit Office report on the cervical screening programme can be summed up as: 'making very good progress'.

Ms King says the report, released today, shows that the investment and effort put into the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) in the past three years is paying off. It shows that the number of Gisborne Inquiry recommendations completed has doubled to 22 from just six months ago, and that is expected to increase again to 31 in six months.

“The Audit Office has some concerns about standards, monitoring, and evaluation of provider audits. I am assured that work is underway to address these issues and the National Screening Unit has rated as a priority regular review of its Interim Policy and Quality Standards, and has already reviewed laboratory standards, colposcopy service standards and developed new NCSP regional service standards.”

Ms King noted that the Audit Office says good progress is particularly being made with the NSU’s policies and practices, and those recommendations requiring a legislative change.

Ms King says both the incidence and deaths from cervical cancer in New Zealand have been reduced, and “today's report clearly shows that we have made a significant amount of progress in improving the quality of our national cervical screening programme.

"This report again reinforces the very important message for all New
Zealand women that enrolling in the cervical screening programme and having a regular three-yearly smear is your best protection against cervical cancer."

Ms King says the report provides a balanced view of what is involved in implementing the Inquiry recommendations, and it is recommended reading for understanding the complexities of running a national cervical screening programme.

“Independent reports like this one are important to ensure continuing improvement of the NSU, which is responsible for implementing the Inquiry recommendations.

"The vital thing for everyone to remember is that the ultimate aim of the ongoing assessments of the NCSP is to make the programme more effective, and I'm fully supportive of continuing external audits of the NSU. The next
will be in 2006."

ENDS

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