Toolkit for engaging Under-screened and Never-screened women in the National Cervical Screening Program

Section 3 – Health service preparation

Page last updated: 31 October 2020 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

Service level actions to reduce barriers to cervical screening
Healthcare provider training
Healthcare provider resources

This section includes information to support health services to implement the renewed National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP).

Information is aimed at ensuring your service is able to provide all women with access to safe, cost effective and culturally sensitive cervical screening. We have included background reading as well as practical tips for improving service accessibility, recall and reminder systems, workforce readiness and quality practice.

Although the focus is on under-screened and never-screened women, much of the information will be applicable to cervical screening in general.

Service level actions to reduce barriers to cervical screening

There are several practical steps health services and cervical screening providers can take to reduce barriers to cervical screening. Options will depend on your service, its capacity and your local community. With the renewal of the NCSP, it is timely for services to consider the following suggestions:
  • Reduce or eliminate any out-of-pocket costs for women with a healthcare card
  • Reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket costs for women from marginalised groups, including those from under-screened populations as defined in Section 1- Addressing barriers to screening
  • Send reminder letters to under-screened and never-screened women to promote attendance
  • Encourage all clinical staff within your service to discuss cervical screening with patients even if they are attending for another reason
  • Provide education sessions for women in the community
  • Have an ‘open day’ so women can see where the Cervical Screening Test will be done and ask any questions
  • Display posters in the waiting room reminding women of the importance of cervical screening
  • Provide brochures in the waiting room so women can gain more information about cervical screening
  • Provide childcare for women accessing your service
  • Provide transport for women accessing your service
  • Provide after-hours clinics
  • Ensure you have equipment that can assist women with a disability accessing your service (consider electronic beds with adjustable height and/or a hoist)
  • Promote your service within community groups
  • Advertise when female cervical screening providers will be available
  • Provide up-to-date Program resources in waiting rooms (See Section 5 – Consumer resources)

Healthcare provider training

Ongoing training and professional development are important considerations for cervical screening providers as they help ensure competent, current patient care. For nurse cervical screening providers, continuing professional development is part of the requirements for national registration.

There are several accredited training courses available for general practice staff that may be relevant to cervical screening and/or to working with vulnerable communities. Training options include:
  • Courses on Women’s Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning
  • Cervical screening workshops
  • Briefing / training on renewal of the NCSP
  • Clinical audits, PDSA Cycles etc.
Visit RACGP - QI&CPD 2017-19 Program or contact your Primary Health Network for details on any local training about renewal of the NCSP.

Six interactive, accredited, on-line training modules on cervical screening are available for GPs, nurses and specialists:
  • Cervical cancer
  • Changes to the NCSP
  • Communicating the importance of screening- this module includes information about engaging under-screened and never-screened women
  • Screening in practice
  • Understanding the screening clinical pathway
  • Communicating test results and patient management
There are many training options available for improving cultural competence and inclusive practices:

Healthcare provider resources

A range of resources have been developed to support you to communicate the changes to the National Cervical Screening Program to practice staff and patients and are located on the cervicalscreening website under the resource section.