In July 2009, the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC) agreed to the renewal of the NCSP.
The renewal of the NCSP commenced in late 2011, to ensure the continuing success of the program and to ensure that that all Australian women – HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated – have access to a cervical screening program that is based on current evidence and best practice.
Factors stimulating the renewal included:
- a plateau in the incidence of cervical squamous cell carcinoma since 2002
- lack of significant reduction in glandular carcinomas since the introduction of the NCSP
- new knowledge about the natural history of cervical cancer
- new evidence about the optimal screening age range and interval
- new tests, such as liquid based cytology (LBC) and HPV testing
- the National Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Program, which commenced in 2007 for girls and in 2013 for boys.
After a rigorous and independent process, the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) considered a systematic literature review and modeled evaluation and made their recommendations in April 2014:
- Five yearly cervical screening using a primary HPV test with partial HPV genotyping and reflex liquid based cytology (LBC) triage, for HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated women 25 to 69 years of age, with exit testing of women up to 74 years of age;
- Self-collection of an HPV sample, for an under-screened or never-screened woman, which has been facilitated by a medical or nurse practitioner (or on behalf of a medical practitioner) who also offers mainstream cervical screening;
- Invitations and reminders to be sent to women 25 to 69 years of age, and exit communications to be sent to women 70 to 74 years of age, to ensure the effectiveness of the program; and
- Delisting of the existing cervical screening test MBS items over a 6 to 12 month transition period.
In September 2014, MSAC’s recommendation was accepted by the Australian Government and AHMAC endorsed the Interim Renewal Implementation Plan. There are five main areas of activity for implementation included:
- MBS changes;
- register capability;
- workforce and practice change;
- safety and quality; and
- communication and information.
A Steering Committee for the Renewal Implementation Project (SCRIP) was established and identified three key priorities for implementation including:
the development of clinical management guidelines for positive screening results;
development of pathology performance measures and standards for HPV testing and reflex cytology; and
As part of the 2015-16 Commonwealth Budget, the Australian Government committed funds to implement a renewed National Cervical Screening Program and National Cancer Screening Register.
Due to the complexity of this project, including register and legislative changes, a long lead time was required for implementation with the renewed NCSP commencing on 1 December 2017.