Cervical Screening Toolkit

Make sure all smear takers are aware of the CPD opportunities and programme updates

This is a toolkit and does not replace existing mandatory continuous professional development (CPD) training. Formal smear taker updates are still required. The toolkit should be used as a professional resource to support and further strengthen existing practice.


To support practices to deliver the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme to the highest standard the Scottish Government, NHS Education for Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and a number of expert clinicians work together to provide quality assured training courses and training standards for smear takers in Scotland.

There are a variety of training and CPD courses available for smear takers. To find out about training, peer support learning groups or CPD events in your local area please contact your local Board Cervical Screening Coordinator or visit NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

National cervical cytology standards

There are national Standards for Education providers: Cervical Cytology (PDF) for education providers. General practices must ensure that all smear takers are appropriately trained to see the cervix fully  when taking a sample. This is essential to ensure that the correct cells are being collected and visible changes in  or abnormalities of the cervix are identified as early as possible. You may find this resource useful - Cervix chart for sample smear takers in primary care.

Change to age range and frequency (CARAF)

All staff should be aware that since 6 June 2016 the age range for cervical screening has changed from ages 20–60 years, to ages 25–64 for routine screening and from age 68 years to age 70 years for non-routine screening (where screening results have shown changes that require further investigation/follow-up). The frequency of cervical screening will continue to be every three years from age 25 to age 49, but has changed to be every five years for women from age 50 to 64.

For more information about CARAF you can download the 2016 professional briefing. This link will also allow you to download professional resources including a CPD slide set for smear takers and a question and answer paper.

NHS Health Scotland would like to acknowledge Cancer Research UK, NHS Forth Valley Health Promotion Department, NHS Lanarkshire Health Promotion Department, NHS National Education for Scotland and members of the CARAF communications group for their input and advice.

You can download the information in this section Make sure all smear takers are aware of the CPD opportunities and programme updates and you can also download the full Cervical Screening Toolkit.

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