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Screening Administration Support for GPs and Nurses

See below for guidance on cervical screening administration and the most frequently asked questions.

Support for GP Practices and Practice Nurses


Step One – Prior Notification Lists (PNL)

PCSE provides Prior Notification Lists (PNLs) to GP practices either hardcopy via post or electronically via Open Exeter approximately 10 weeks before patients’ cervical screening tests are due.


Step Two – Review PNL

Practices need to review the PNLs and identify any patients who shouldn’t be screened.

GP Practices can delay screening due to the patient:

  • Being pregnant
  • Having had a recent test
  • Currently under cytological follow-up

Women can be removed from the screening programme:

  • By informed choice – a signed Disclaimer form is required
  • If they are aged over 65
  • If they have no cervix
  • Under the Mental Capacity Act
  • If they are undergoing radiotherapy


Notify PCSE of Cease or Defer

Practices should submit Cease and Deferral requests via Open Exeter to PCSE before the cut off shown on the Open Exeter Prior Notification List (PNL) to avoid inappropriate invitations. 

Women can be ceased via Open Exeter for reasons of: Age or No Cervix. 

They can be deferred for: Recent test, current pregnancy, patient wish to defer, under treatment relevant to screening or discharge from colposcopy.

For any other reason to cease or defer, which you are unable to submit via Open Exeter, a cease or deferral form should be completed.

The forms should be submitted via the online enquiry form, which can be found on our Contact Us page.

To submit the form using the online form, please follow these steps: 

  • Select, download*, print and complete the appropriate form from the links above
  • Where a wet signature is required, please ensure this is captured on the form
  • Go to the Contact Us page and select ‘Screening – Cease/Reinstate/Defer’ from the drop down menu under enquiry type
  • Select the category type and complete the mandatory fields for your request
  • Upload the relevant form, signed as required
  • Submit the request

You will then receive confirmation that the request has been received.

When a practice notifies us that a woman should be ceased from the PNL, a marker is set on NHAIS and we will cancel the patient from Screening the Call/Recall programme. The practice will then receive a Cease notification via Open Exeter.

*Please note: The forms are in pdf format to ensure they remain standardised across the service.  Please print off, complete and upload the form for submission as outlined above.


More information for women about cervical screening can be found in this leaflet:

NHS cervical screening: helping you decide

This leaflet is provided in several different languages.


Screening invitations and reminders

PCSE posts out screening invitation letters to patients approximately six weeks before the test is due.  Reminder letters will be sent approximately 18 weeks after the first invitation letter and approximately 14 weeks after reminder letter, where no test has been received.


Sample taking

Tests are completed at the GP practice. The sample taker should use the pre-populated HMR101 form agreed in your area which can be accessed through your clinical system or via Open Exeter. When using Open Exeter please ensure you print the HMR101 –A5(2009) version, which provides the woman’s last 12 results on the form, making it easier and quicker for the lab to produce accurate results.

Sample takers should validate the woman’s address at the time of the test to ensure that result letters can be sent directly to the patient.


Result letters

PCSE receives electronic files of patient results from laboratories daily. We then send out result letters to the patient according to result code, action code and repeat months as recommended by the laboratory.

All women must receive the cervical screening results within 14 days of having the test.  If a result is abnormal, patients are sent a Direct Referral to Colposcopy. The GP Practice will also be notified of an abnormal result and Direct Referral to Colposcopy recommendation. Patients should contact their GP Practice / the number on the referral letter to organise a colposcopy appointment.


For further FAQs, visit our help page.

Abnormal results letters where a referral is required will be posted first class. Invitation and all other results letters will be posted business class.

Screening letters are printed in a purpose-built, state of the art print facility, which complies with all relevant legislation governing the handling of sensitive data.

Private test results and tests carried out aboard can be added to a woman’s screening history. A copy of the test result should be sent to PCSE so that it can be added to the records.  Women registered with a GP Practice who have private tests or have tests carried out abroad are entitled to a free NHS test and should still be offered screening at the appropriate interval. For details on where to send your test result, please visit our contacts page.