The number of women invited for CervicalCheck screening in the first week when it resumes in July will be limited to 14,600 who are high priority, it has emerged.
CervicalCheck will be the first of the screening programmes to resume after being paused due to Covid-19 restrictions. BreastCheck and BowelScreen are not restarting until September.
The three programmes pick up around 1,700 cancers a year in people who are unaware they have the disease.
According to CervicalCheck it plans to restart cervical screening on July 6 and women who are a priority will be sent a letter asking them to book an appointment.
"Our plan to restart screening will depend on public health advice as the coronavirus restrictions continue to ease," it told women.
Others included are women who need a repeat test because their last sample could not be tested and women on their first test.
After the first letters are sent it will move on to women who are eligible for routine screening, those waiting longest first.
CervicalCheck has introduced HPV testing in all the labs it uses, which it says will find some 18 out of 20 cases of abnormal cells, compared to 15 out of 20, as produced by the previous cytology test.
A spokeswoman for the screening service said 14,600 people will be invited in the first week of the restart.
Priority women will be sent a letter inviting them to book their screening appointment as soon as possible .
“Covid-19 safety measures mean that women may have to speak to their GP over the phone before their appointment.
“Because of physical distancing women may be asked to wait outside until the GP or nurse is ready,” she added.