- The Renewal is a strategy for reviewing the policy and operation of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP).
- The aim of the Renewal is to ensure that all Australian women, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinated and unvaccinated, have access to a cervical screening program that is acceptable, effective, efficient and based on current evidence.
- The science of cancer is one of the most rapidly changing areas in health and while the success of the NCSP cannot be disputed, the environment in which the program operates has changed.
- Since the introduction of the NCSP in 1991, new evidence has emerged about the optimal screening age range and interval, the HPV vaccine has become available and there have been developments in new technologies for the early detection of cervical cancer.
- The Standing Committee on Screening (SCoS) of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) is overseeing the Renewal. The SCoS is a jurisdictional committee.
- Expert committees are guiding the process. The Renewal Steering Committee guided the first two phases of the Renewal and the Steering Committee for the Renewal Implementation Project is guiding the implementation phase.
- Input and feedback is also sought through a Partner Reference Group that is open to all stakeholders including industry, health professionals and consumers.
- Changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) require consideration by the Australian Government. Other changes to the National Cervical Screening Program, including registry functions, are for consideration by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC).
- The Renewal commenced in November 2011 and is:
- Assessed the evidence for screening tests and pathways, the screening interval, age range and commencement for both HPV vaccinated and non-vaccinated women.
- Determined a cost-effective screening pathway and program model.
- Investigated options for improved national data collection systems and registry functions to enable policy, planning, service delivery and quality management.
- Assessed the feasibility and acceptability of the renewed program for women.
- The assessment of the evidence and modelling evaluation of potential screening pathways, tests and intervals is complete and recommendations were made by the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in April 2014.
- The Interim Renewal Implementation Plan was endorsed by AHMAC in September 2014 and a draft renewed policy was approved in-principle by AHMAC in March 2015.
- The Australian Government's commitment as part of the 2015-16 Commonwealth budget provides funding to implement the renewed program to start on 1 May 2017.
- The Australian and state and territory governments will continue to work together to ensure the successful implementation of the renewed National Cervical Screening Program.