Current NSW Cervical Screening Program projects

The NSW Cervical Screening Program and NSW Pap Test Register work in collaboration with various government and non-government organisations and community groups to increase screening participation in communities across NSW.

NSW Cervical Screening Program's Never Screeners Invitation Project

8 out of 10 women in Australia who are diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had regular Pap tests. On 1 July 2016, the NSW Cervical Screening Program launched an invitation project for never screeners. This project used Medicare data to identify women in NSW aged 25 to 34 years who have never previously participated in cervical screening. A letter or email was sent to selected identified women to encourage them to book their first Pap test.

This project was completed in September 2016, however it is anticipated that general practices and other Pap test providers may experience an increased number of women enquiring about Pap tests, or making appointments for their first Pap test, for the next few months.

Evidence suggests that women are more likely to have a Pap test if their doctor reminds them it is due. Furthermore, regular Pap tests can reduce the risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer by up to 96%. Therefore, the NSW Cervical Screening Program encourages all GPs and Pap test providers to talk with their patients, particularly those who have never previously been screened, about having a Pap test every two years.

NSW Pap Test Register’s Electronic Reminder Service For GPs

The NSW Cervical Screening Program (CSP) implemented a six month pilot project in 2011/12 aimed at assisting GPs to implement a sustainable recall system for women who were overdue for a Pap test in their practice. The NSW CSP has extended the ‘NSW Pap Test Register’s Electronic Reminder Service’ to all eligible GP practices in NSW. Please refer to the project information below:

Registering for the NSW Pap Test Register electronic reminder service could improve cervical screening rates and halve the time your practice takes to process cervical screening reminders!

Evidence suggests that women are more likely to have a Pap test if their doctor reminds them it is due, so GPs, as well as practice reminder letters, have a major role to play in preventing cervical cancers.

In order to assist practices to more efficiently remind patients who are overdue for their 2-yearly Pap test, the NSW Pap Test Register (PTR) piloted a program of Health Level Seven (HL7) electronic reminder messages between the NSW PTR and 46 GP practices across the state.

The receipt of an electronic reminder message from the NSW PTR enabled over 70% of practices to implement a sustainable cervical screening recall and reminder system. This led to a 60% increase in women being screened following receipt of a 27 month reminder letter from both the NSW PTR and their GP, compared with women who only received the NSW PTR reminder.

The NSW PTR Electronic Reminder service is now available to support any GP practice in NSW currently operating the Healthlink secure messaging application, and either Best Practice or Medical Director practice management software.

Why should practices register for the service?

In addition to increasing cervical screening rates among patients, the pilot demonstrated that the system improved practice efficiency and halved the workload and time taken to process cervical screening reminders.

While recommendations have been made as part of the National Cervical Screening Program Renewal to make significant changes to cervical screening, it is vital for all women aged 18-69 years to continue to have a Pap test every two years until these changes are implemented (scheduled for December 2017).

What does the service offer?

The NSW PTR will identify those women who have not had a Pap test in the 27 months since their last test, and whose last Pap test was normal with a recommendation to have a repeat Pap test after 24 months. A reminder letter will be sent from the NSW PTR, whilst simultaneously an electronic reminder message will be generated for the woman’s GP, informing that the woman is overdue for a Pap test.

Electronic reminder messages will be delivered to participating practices on a weekly basis through a secure, HL7 encrypted messaging system. The electronic reminder messages will be sent to practices once only, however, the NSW PTR will continue to send reminder letters to women at the appropriate intervals  after their last Pap test (for more information on 'Letters from the NSW PTR', go to /information-and-resources-for-health-professionals/general-information/letters-from-the-nsw-pap-test-register/), if a test has not been carried out in the intervening period.

A self-directed, online training program, developed in conjunction with Train IT Medical Pty Ltd, to support the use of the NSW PTR electronic reminder service is available to all participating practices.  The training program assists practices in setting up an alert and a recall and reminder system with their practice management software. Train IT Medical Pty Ltd also provides technical support relating to the content of the training, free of charge, to all participating practices.

Which practices are eligible to register for the service?

Any practice in NSW which is currently operating the Healthlink secure messaging application, and either Best Practice or Medical Director practice management software, is able to register for the electronic reminder service.

In addition, participating practices must have sufficient administrative capacity to be able to generate patient reminder letters (or other forms of communication based on practice preference e.g. SMS, e-mail) and alerts, and manage the patient recall process.

How should practices register for the service?

All eligible GP practices registered with the NSW PTR have been contacted about participation in this service. Practices are also able to register directly by contacting the project e-mail address:


[1]Emery J, Shaw K, Williams B, Mazza D, Fallon-Ferguson J, Varlow M, Trevena L. The role of primary care in early detection and follow-up of cancer. Nature Review Clinical Oncology, 11, 38–48 doi:10.1038/nrclinonc.2013.212, (2013).

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