Stormont building APGC

APG Recap: Cervical Screening

This week, the All-Party Group on Cancer for the Northern Ireland Assembly met to discuss cervical screening in NI. It featured presentations from Dr Stephen Austin (Executive Medical Director, Southern HSC Trust) and Dr Joanne McClean (Director of Public Health, HSC Public Health Agency). Topics included the smear test recall, the new HPV screening process, and HPV vaccinations. As Secretariat for this APG, Cancer Focus NI helps coordinate such discussions.

Commenting on yesterday’s meeting, Pat McClelland, Director of Services at Cancer Focus NI, says:

“It was great to support a meeting of the All-Party Group on Cancer dedicated to cervical screening in Northern Ireland. Between the recall and the revised screening pathway, there have been a lot of questions around cervical screening. This APG created a space for MLAs to get answers to these queries and for the Southern Trust and PHA to provide updates and surface support needs. 

“We had great engagement from the MLAs, and it was encouraging to see them pass on constituent questions. We are particularly grateful to Dr Austin, Dr McClean, and their teams, who voluntarily offered to come to this meeting and present on their work. Screenings and the HPV vaccine are essential to early detection and prevention, with the HPV vaccine able to prevent cervical, mouth and other cancers. We are glad to hear of the work done to promote these life-saving measures.”

Cervical screening is available for women aged 25-64 in NI. Cancer Focus NI encourages all eligible persons to take advantage of this screening, as screening facilitates early detection.

The HPV Vaccine is now offered routinely through a school-based programme to students in Year 9. This programme can help eradicate cervical and some other cancers in future generations; Cancer Focus NI strongly encourages vaccination for those eligible. If you did not receive the vaccine in school but believe it would be helpful, you can request a vaccine through your GP to discuss suitability.

Learn more about cervical screening here, the HPV vaccine here, or call the Cancer Focus NI Nurseline (a nurse-led information line) at 0800 783 3339 with any queries.