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Letter: More screening call

Sir: Paul Lashmar (News, 4 August) correctly highlights the crisis in the National Cervical Screening Programme. Cervical screening is the most successful cancer screening test of all, none of which is perfect, and the UK programme has already reached targets set for 2000.

The current crisis is due to two factors. First, the low pay offered to screeners which, after two years' training, is pounds 9,500 pa (pounds 190 per week) for this skilled and highly responsible job.

Second, the recent revelations of mistakes in the programme at Canterbury and other centres suggesting that the test is failing. The truth is quite the reverse, however, and the public should know that these disclosures are the consequence of the implementation of stringent internal and external auditing programmes.It is ironic and unfair that such a successful programme should be castigated for putting its house in order.


Consultant Pathologist

The Royal Marsden Hospital London SW3

Past president of the British Society for Clinical Cytology