Hand on heart, we have had what you are introducing as proficiency testing since Moses came down from the mountain with those tablets (1988). We were fired up after reading about a testing scheme in New York pioneered by Lou Newton and Doris Collins in 1988 in Acta Cytologica. In fact we then invited Lulu and Roberta Goodell to our very first National Association of Cytologists Meeting in Birmingham in 1989 to tell us about it, which was an unqualified success and led to my love affair with your ASCT. We adapted her scheme for local use in our Region of 17 labs, mainly as a teaching and educational thing. Ten slides, all different. Some obvious abnormals, some negative, and some exotica. I marked it and encouraged people to learn from successes and failures alike. Everyone had fun for a while, then beaurocracy broke in and stole our educational toy and changed it into a stick to beat us all with. Sound familiar? We now have mandatory testing for all screeners and pathologists twice yearly. The Whole Programme and it's rules of engagement can be downloaded and viewed at the NHS Screening Website http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk(external link). Look under Cervical Screening Programme, then look for 'publications' and click on publication no 19. It is a 6mb pdf file. Best of luck. Have plenty of paper in the printer.

Dennis Williams CSci FIBMS
Clinical Cytologist
George Eliot Hospital
College Street
Nuneaton
Warwickshire CV10 7DJ