Fact Sheet - Response to media reporting on concerns related to the timely provision of pathology histories

Page last updated: 05 August 2018


Recent media reporting has raised concerns that the time taken for the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) to provide screening histories to Pathology laboratories is putting lives at risk. This is not correct.

The NCSR is able to provide pathology histories for any high risk result and since June 2018 has been able to provide pathology histories for women regardless of which state across Australia their previous tests were undertaken. This ‘national view’ of histories is a key feature of the NCSR.

The Facts

The average time for the NCSR to return a pathology history request is one day with over 90% of history requests being provided to pathology laboratories within 11 seconds.

Pathology laboratories can get an immediate response for any request by contacting the NCSR contact centre. Pathology laboratories are aware of and have been using this service when needed.

The safety of women is paramount and remains the first priority for the national cervical screening program and the NCSR.


The NCSR system automatically matches 90% of history requests using stringent matching rules. Stringent matching rules ensure the correct results are matched to each patient. Where requests can’t be automatically matched to a patient by the system or there is any doubt concerning a match, the request is sent to a team of NCSR staff to undertake further checks to ensure accuracy.

Strict quality assurance processes oversight any manual matching activities – all NCSR staff have had extensive training.

Current and continual improvement activities

The NCSR is progressively and safely improving automatic matching rates.
Additional resources are being directed to improved manual matching capacity and reduce response times for pathology laboratories for the small minority of requests requiring manual matching.