For a number of years the UK, like many other countries, has been vaccinating girls (and now boys) against certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV) known to cause cervical cancer. Some of these girls are now reaching an age where they are eligible for cervical screening and, as a result, the level of HPV-related disease in the population will begin to fall. Over time, the proportion of women who have been vaccinated will continue to grow, which has led to a reexamination of the effectiveness of the national cervical screening program.
Earlier this year, the NHS conducted a competitive tender process across the UK seeking providers capable of establishing a primary HPV-based cervical screening service for one or more of nine consolidated geographical lots across the country. HSL was pleased to be named as the preferred bidder for London (lot 1).
This contract requires consolidation of London’s ten existing cervical screening services into one central laboratory. From April 2020, the service will be housed in the Halo – taking over the entire of level 8. The timelines for this project are very tight, with all women across the UK invited for cervical screening to be offered a primary HPV test by January 1, 2020. All services for each lot must be delivered from one integrated laboratory site by April 2020.
At this point, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Adele Richards and I have been seconded from Sonic Healthcare Australia as Project Manager to oversee the transition to the new service, which we have named Cervical Screening London (CSL). Having recently managed a similar transition for Sonic’s Australian laboratories, I am finding similar issues arising in this project, which is not surprising. My previous experience confirmed that the transition to HPV primary screening is not an easy one. It involves a wide number of stakeholders and a significant reduction in workforce, especially cytologists. The staff involved face very difficult choices and ensuring each individual is respected and supported during this process has been a primary focus of the project so far.
There is a dynamic and dedicated team at HSL working on plans and implementation processes for the new service. We are confident that CSL’s level 8 Halo facility will bring together the best experience from all ten current screening
sites, becoming a centre of excellence in modern integrated cervical screening. Keep watch for further updates in the coming months.