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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.

We have produced a PNL guide to help GP practices access and update ePNLs and Non Responders on Open Exeter.

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 or under treatment relevant to screening. 

In line with guidance published in the ‘NHS cervical screening call and recall: guide to administrative good practice’ the GP practice must specify how long the deferral is for in multiples of 6 months, up to a maximum time of 18 months.  So, a woman may be postponed for 6, 12 or 18 months at any one time.  Please ensure the deferral period does not exceed 18 months.

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 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.


General enquiries

No, PCSE only provide the administration to support the cervical screening programme, we cannot help patients with information about the programme or results.

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.

For general Open Exeter enquiries, for example access to applications or password resets, please email us at: PCSE.openexeter@nhs.net.

If a patient has not received their result letter, please contact us.

Screening: Online Enquiry Form

Yes, if you select an option where there is a requirement to submit a form/document you will be provided with the option to upload and attach the relevant documentation as part of your submission.

The online form supports these various types of uploads, bmp, doc, docx, gif, jpg, pdf, png, rtf, tif, txt, xls, xlsx, ods, odt.

However, the most frequently used file types which are recommended are pdf and excel files.

The maximum file size per attachment is 3.2MB.

Can I send multiple cease/defer/reinstate requests on one submission?

To ensure we can create a unique case reference number for each enquiry of this type, you should only send one cease/defer/reinstate request per online form. 

Please do not attach multiple cease/defer/reinstate requests for different patients on the same online form submission.

The form will allow you to upload a maximum of five documents.

Please see the FAQ below re. Cease/defer/reinstate requests.

The internet browsers supported are:

  • Chrome - v30 and later
  • Firefox - v27 and later
  • Internet Explorer - v11
  • Opera - v17
  • Safari - v5 on iOS and v7 on OS X

An acknowledgement email will be sent to the email address you provided in your submission.  You should receive the acknowledgement email within two hours of submitting the form during office hours.  If you do not receive an email, please first check to see if it is in your ‘Junk’ email folder.  If it isn’t there, please re-submit your enquiry on the online form.

The enquiry form is accessible on the 'Contact us' page of the PCSE website. Select the relevant category type from the list of ‘Screening’ options on the drop down menu.  

Public Health England will be providing standardised forms for cease, reinstate and deferral requests that will be available to download from the PCSE Cervical Screening for GPs and Nurses page, under section 3.

Please ensure you are entering the post code for the main contact of your organisation.  For example, if you work in a satellite office of a Screening and Immunisation Team, please enter the main office post code.

Please select the department/organisation that you work in.  It is important you select the correct option to enable us to carry out the necessary identification and verification checks to ensure we only respond to authorised contacts in your organisation.

If you work in a laboratory, sexual health or colposcopy clinic or Screening and Immunisation Team, you should have received a message from PCSE requesting you send your main contact and additional users to us so that we can register them on on our system. 

If you have not received this message or haven’t replied, please ensure you complete the relevant spreadsheet below and return it asap to:

sara.seedat@nhs.net AND paul.roberts4@capita.co.uk

Colposcopy & laboratory contacts

Screening and Immunisation Team contacts

If you are in a GP practice, the main contact/super user will be able to add or amend additional users through the User Management section of PCSE Online. We would encourage you to check the named contacts that are currently included under your organisation registration and update accordingly.  You can find further information about how to add or amend users in your practice here.

The online form will provide the quickest possible response time to your query and we would encourage you to use it. 

For a period of time during the transition of our users to the online form, we will continue to monitor the current cervical screening email inboxes, however at a future date we plan to close those email addresses so that all queries should come through the online form.

We will give sufficient notice to advise when the email addresses will no longer be monitored.

For any organisation providing cervical screening services that is not a GP Practice* (e.g. laboratory, colposcopy clinic, screening and immunisation team etc), please read this guidance about adding or amending the contacts you have registered with PCSE.

1. The main contact for the organisation can submit a request to update a contact via the online enquiry form.

  • Simply go to the Contact Us page on the PCSE website
  • Select ‘Screening – General Enquiry from the drop down menu under Enquiries
  • When you are completing the online form, enter ‘Updated Contact Details’ in the ‘Type of Query’ field
  • Under ‘Enquiry Details’ please provide the name(s) of the contact(s) that need updating.
  • Submit the form to either add or remove contacts for the organisation

2. The main contact for the organisation can call the PCSE Customer Support Centre (CSC) to either add or remove contacts for the organisation.

The Customer Support Centre is open from 8:00-17:00, Monday to Friday.

Phone: 0333 014 2884

3. The PCSE Screening Team will contact laboratories approximately every six months to ask them to provide the current contacts for their organisation and confirm if there are any changes to be made. If there are, the main contact will be asked to update the information on a spreadsheet and return it to PCSE to be added/amended.

*Please note: GP Practices can find further information about adding and amending additional contacts on the Registering for PCSE Online FAQs.