NSW Primary Care Strategy for the bowel, breast and cervical screening programs
Purpose of the Primary Care Strategy
The NSW Primary Care Strategy for the bowel, breast and cervical screening programs (the Strategy) provides a roadmap for the Cancer Institute NSW to work with the primary care sector to increase primary care involvement in these cancer screening programs.
As it aligns with national and state policy and plans, the intended outcome of the Strategy is that more primary care providers, particularly in general practice, will recommend screening and follow-up with patients who are eligible for screening. This will contribute to an increase in breast, bowel and cervical screening participation rates across NSW.
While an individual’s decision to participate in breast, bowel or cervical screening is influenced by multiple factors, it is well recognised that primary health care can have a significant impact on improving screening rates. In particular, general practitioners (GPs) are recognised as having an influential role with patients. However, formative research undertaken by the Cancer Institute NSW has found that there are a range of factors that shape an individual primary care provider’s decision to recommend, or not recommend, screening.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, BreastScreen Australia and the National Cervical Screening Program are national programs developed by the Australian Government in collaboration with the States and Territories.
Breast and bowel screening programs offer free access to screening for eligible individuals.
BreastScreen NSW offers breast cancer screening through regional Screening and Assessment Services (SASs), managed by Local Health Districts (LHDs). Bowel cancer screening is offered by the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP). Eligible participants are sent a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) by mail.
Cervical screening is available through general practices, women’s health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and, in some cases, specialist clinics. The cost of conventional cytology is covered by a Medicare rebate; however, there may be some costs to women if services do not bulk bill for the consultation.
Given the evidence that supports primary health care engagement in improving cancer screening rates, and as part of a broader strategy to increase screening rates in NSW, the Cancer Institute NSW has developed this Strategy in consultation with key stakeholders.