London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Wandsworth 1972

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Wandsworth, Metropolitan Borough]

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Cervical cytology
The outstanding features of 1972 were the introduction at the
beginning of the year of the National Recall Scheme for Routine
Cervical Cytology; the commencement in February of two early
evening clinics for the general public; and the use in the autumn
of a mobile cervical cytology unit kindly loaned by the Women's
National Cancer Control Campaign.
Exactly five years after a nation-wide cervical cytological
screening service was introduced in this country, a centrally
based recall system was launched whereby women aged 35 and
over whose previous test had been negative would be invited to
have a further test 5 years after their last examination. Under
this scheme, recall is initiated by the National Health Service
Central Register at Southport for those women in relation to whom
it received a copy of the form used when they were previously
examined. The names concerned are forwarded to the appropriate
Executive Council which transmits them to the corresponding
local health authority after consulting the patients' general
practitioners; this procedure enables the family doctor to advise
against the recall where this is contra-indicated on medical
grounds. The local health authority then writes to each patient
concerned inviting her to be screened again either by her own
doctor or at a local clinic. Where for any reason the patient
fails to respond to the initial invitation a further letter is sent
after an interval of six weeks.
In Wandsworth where routine testing is repeated every three
years irrespective of age a copy of the laboratory form is automatically
sent to Southport in relation to every woman screened
so that the local and national routine recall schemes are married
effectively. Arrangements for recall, both locally and centrally,
proceeded smoothly in 1972 and a grand total of 792 such routine
examinations was performed in our clinics.
Another welcome innovation was the establishment in February
of fortnightly evening clinics at the Tooting and Victoria Drive
Centres which were open between 6 and 8 p.m.; judging from the
public response these meet a very real need in an age when more
and more women are out at work during the day. For the same
reason arrangements were made for a weekly screening clinic to
be held in a factory employing a large number of women and
offering adequate facilities for medical examination purposes.
71 women, of whom one was found to have a positive cervical
smear, were examined in the course of this useful project.