Cervical screening coverage has fallen, according to statistics published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
Screening coverage across all women between 25 to 64 was at 73.5%, down from 74.2% a year before and from 75.7% in 2011. These statistics cover the period between April 2014 and 31 March 2015.
Coverage was the lowest among women in the 25 to 49-year-old age group at 71.2%. This is down from 71.8% last year and 73.7% in 2011.
Responsible statistician Pritpal Rayat said: 'Today's report highlights a fall in cervical screening coverage for both younger and older women. This will be of concern to health professionals and organisations with a focus on cervical cancer and I hope this report will be useful to them in planning their future work in the important area.'
At a regional level, coverage of the full target age group at 31 March 2015 ranged from 68.4% in London to 76.3% in the East Midlands, compared to 70.3% and 76.6% respectively last year.
Cervical screening departments are expected to ensure that at least 98% of result letters are received by post within two weeks of the test. Today's report calculates that 91% of letters were received within this timeframe compared to 93.7% in 2013-14.
Today's report, Cervical Screening Programme, England, Statistics for 2014-15, is used to inform policy and to monitor the quality and effectiveness of screening services.