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The cervical screening programme in the UK has had a long and complicated gestation. It was unplanned and has been unloved, and, initially, not surprisingly, failed to thrive. It was then taken in hand, given firm guidance and began to improve. It continues to suffer from misunderstanding and the effects of the poor handling in the past, but with careful supervision and monitoring it is beginning to be recognized as one of the most successful medical screening programmes in the world.
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