National Cervical Screening Program Policies

Information for the general public about the national policies, governance and quality and safety of the National Cervical Screening Program

Page last updated: 13 December 2018 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

What is the National Cervical Screening Program?

The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) is a population based screening program that aims to reduce the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer.

It was established in 1991 as a jointly funded and governed program of the Australian Federal and state and territory governments.

What are the National Cervical Screening Program policies?

The National Cervical Screening Program policies provide guidance on evidence based best practice on cervical screening in Australia.

From 1991 to 30 November 2017, the Program recommended women who have ever been sexually active between the age of 18 and 69 years to have two yearly Pap tests. Between 1991 and 2002 the Program has reduced cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates by 50 percent. Since 2002, there has been a plateau in incidence and mortality rates.

In May 2015, the Australian Government accepted the recommendations of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) that were reported in April 2014 and agreed to implement the renewed NCSP.

On 1 December 2017, the Program introduced new recommendations for cervical screening. From this date asymptomatic women aged 25 to 74 years should have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years. The new recommendations together with HPV vaccination are predicted to further reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates by up to 30%.

There are three national policies available below:

Who governs the NCSP?

The NCSP is overseen by the Standing Committee on Screening of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.

Quality and Safety Monitoring

A key component of a population based screening program is quality and safety monitoring. The NCSP Quality and Safety Monitoring Committee (QSMC) was established in 2014 to provide advice on quality and safety aspects of the NCSP and review program performance data.

The QSMC has developed a Quality Framework. This includes the principles of providing high quality services across the screening pathway which applies to all individuals and organisations that deliver cervical screening services; and the quality standards that will be monitored by the Program.