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NHS Cervical Screening Programme – Sample Taking Training Guidelines


Posted February 2021

It is essential that Public Health England’s (PHE) training guidelines are followed for new, existing and returning sample takers. New sample takers should not be taking samples without completing the initial training (three hours classroom or virtual) and not without supervision until sign off by the cervical screening mentor. Returners to Practice must contact the laboratory to check their pin/code number status and for any changes to the liquid-based cytology (LBC) system previously employed.

Sample takers must update the following skills for an absence of 12 months – five years (and over):

Experienced sample takers who meet national standards and fulfil their professional obligations for Continued Professional Development (CPD) can undertake peer review. Employers should manage any concerns raised in connection with meeting competency requirements. If you have any queries about sample taking training requirements, then please contact your regional NHS England and NHS Improvement Public Health Commissioning team.

Many practices continue to provide screening services, however, some complaints have been received from women who are unable to book their cervical screening appointment and have been advised by their GP practice to call back. In conjunction with PHE, the advice issued for providers of NHS Cervical Screening sample taking services is for primary care providers to continue to prioritise cervical screening appointments including both high risk and normal call/recall invitations to screening.

Providers should ensure that cervical screening appointments are booked for all eligible women who request screening. Women must not be advised to contact the practice at a later date to arrange their appointment. If the provider is unable to deliver the scheduled screening appointment, then the appointment should be rescheduled rather than cancelled in order to avoid losing the individual from the system.