Explore our history; back to 1964

2013

Boys added to the HPV vaccination program. VCS takes on some functions of the Bowel Screen Program in Victoria. Planning commences for a renewed cervical screening program.  Compass Trial Pilot commences.
2013

2013

VCS now comprises 160 employees and 3 separate services. Changes were made at NHVPR to accomodate the addition of boys to the HPV vaccination program.  VCS now running the Participant Follow-up Function (PFUF) of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program in Victoria on behalf of the Department of Health.  The Commonwealth Department of Health is developing a new screening program using the Renewal Process.  Compass pilot trial commences, to compare 3-yearly cytology screening with 6-yearly HPV screening,  The Board comprises 10 members, 8 are women.

2012

VCS hosts PCC2011, the second such conference.
2012

2012

VCS hosts PCC2011, the second such conference. VCCR introduces a second reminder letter for women overdue for a Pap smear. NHVPR notifications reach 5 million.

2011

VCS releases first data showing a decrease in high grade abnormalities after introduction of the HPV vaccination program.
2011

2011

VCS releases first data showing a decrease in high grade abnormalities after introduction of the HPV vaccination program. CALD now being collected. Rebranding of VCS with the creation of VCS Pathology and VCS Inc. State government advises VCS that it can stay at the current site. VCS site given a new address of 265 Faraday Street

2010

20th anniversary of VCCR.
2010

2010

Introduction of PCR testing for Chlamydia. 20th anniversary of VCCR. NHVPR now has over 4.2 million dose notifications.

2009

Renewal of National Cervical Screening Program announced.
2009

2009

VCS hosts a conference ‘Preventing Cervical Cancer: Integrating Screening and Vaccination’ (PCC2009). Pilot commences for recording indigenous status with Pap tests.

2008

VCCR co-locates with the National HPV Vaccination Program Register.
2008

2008

VCS establishes the National Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Program Register (NHVPR) under contract with the Commonwealth. The number of Board members reduced from 12 to 10. VCCR and NHVPR located at East Melbourne. RWH moves to Parkville in June 2008.

2007

National HPV Vaccination Program implemented.
2007

2007

TAT approximately 1.5 days. Total Pap tests registered with VCCR is 572,000. 294,512 of these were from VCS (51%).

2006

NHMRC Guidelines for the Management of Asymptomatic Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities.
2006

2006

VCS achieved recognition as a Health Promotion Charity. Implemented new NHMRC Guidelines for the Management of Asymptomatic Women with Screen-Detected Abnormalities. Testing for HPV and Chlamydia introduced. Dorota Gertig appointed as Epidemiologist and Medical Director of VCCR, following the retirement of Dr Heather Mitchell. ThinPrep imaging system installed.

2005

Implementation of MediPath LIS for histopathology.
2005

2005

Implementation of MediPath LIS for histopathology. Electronic results facility was available at 500 GP sites.

2004

Planning started for determining a suitable site for VCS once RWH moves.
2004

2004

Planning started for determining a suitable site for VCS once RWH moves. New Business Manager and Laboratory Manager appointed.

2003

CIS now had a decision support tool offering the reporting scientist or pathologist the appropriate clinical recommendation.
2003

2003

CIS now had a decision support tool offering the reporting scientist or pathologist the appropriate clinical recommendation. “Performance Standards for Australian Laboratories Reporting Cervical Cytology” published by NPAAC.

2002

Due to another Victorian laboratory losing its NATA accreditation, test volumes increased markedly for a period.
2002

2002

Due to another Victorian laboratory losing its NATA accreditation, test volumes increased markedly for a period. There was extensive overtime and the TAT approached 2 weeks.

2001

CIS project completed July 2000. Victorian BreastScreen Registry relocated to new premises on 26 July 2000.
2001

2001

CIS project completed July 2000. Victorian BreastScreen Registry relocated to new premises on 26 July 2000. Thus ended the contract with BreastScreen. Courses for Cytopathologists and Cytotechnologists were resumed after a few years off with the CIS project. NATA recommended the appointment of a Quality Manager, which occurred in Jan 2001 (0.5 EFT). Practices were now able to receive results by ERT.

2000

On 17 August 1999, the core functions of the new CIS commenced.
2000

2000

On 17 August 1999, the core functions of the new CIS commenced. As planned, Dr Gabriele Medley retired as Director on 30 June 2000. Dr Marion Saville was appointed Director from 3 July 2000. Scientists and Pathologists were now entering cytology results directly into the CIS system rather than have it done by clerical staff.

1999

Mandatory for pathology laboratories to meet performance targets.
1999

1999

The first Client Service Officer appointed. There was preparation of all computer systems for year 2000 compliance (Y2K).

1998

VCS was providing a public cytology service for the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
1998

1998

VCS was providing a public cytology service for the Royal Melbourne Hospital. $1M funding was approved for development of the new Cytology Information System (CIS) to be written by Managed Information Technology Solutions (MITS). VCS purchased ‘a machine which applies the coverslip to the glass slide after staining’.

1997

BreastScreen handled approximately 220,000 phone calls and made 158,000 appointments for women.
1997

1997

BreastScreen handled approximately 220,000 phone calls and made 158,000 appointments for women. VCS started offering both ThinPrep liquid based monolayer sample methodology and PAPNET assisted rescreening of conventional smears, when requested by the doctor.

1996

Performance measures for Australian laboratories reporting cervical cytology.
1996

1996

VCS was still providing a public cervical cytology service to RWH, Western Hospital, Box Hill Hospital and now Goulburn Valley Hospital. VCS developed a histopathology section which proved popular with a number of gynaecologists. There were 173 specimens in the first year. Images of request forms were now stored on CD ROM. The first statistical report was released for VBR.

1995

VCCR and VBR required increased space.
1995

1995

VCCR and VBR required increased space. Several experienced scientists were lost to the private sector, they were difficult to replace. After much effort to recruit locally, scientists will were recruited from Canada, where there was a surplus. A practitioner suggestion led to the development of the tear off slip.

1994

First NHMRC Guidelines Screening to Prevent Cervical Cancer: Guidelines for the Management of Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities.
1994

1994

A significant legal case was brought against VCS, which was settled on the eve of court. The case caused a high level of anxiety amongst staff. Professional counselling was provided and there were a number of resignations, staff wanted to move to a lower stress environment. VCS took over reporting gynaecological cytology for Western Hospital and Box Hill Hospital. 79% of the Board were women. Funds were obtained from the Victorian Cervical Cancer Program, to employ a Trainee Cytopathologist for one year. A new computer, a Fujitsu DRS 4600, came on line on 26 April 1994. An 11 headed microscope was purchased. The BreastScreen Registry made appointments for 70,000 women.

1993

VCS commenced a contract to provide the Victorian BreastScreen Registry (VBR).
1993

1993

VCS commenced a contract to provide the Victorian BreastScreen Registry (VBR). VCS staff participated in the development of its first Workplace Agreement, signed by 70% of staff by 30 May 1993. There was medico-legal action by numerous women who had developed cervical cancer despite having one or more negative pap smears. The first of the ‘three year’ reminder letters were posted.

1992

On 3 September 1991, VCS was incorporated.
1992

1992

On 3 September 1991, VCS was incorporated. VCS was one of the last services to leave PHH. The move to the RWH facility occurred on the weekend beginning 6 December 1991. In February 1991, VCS took over the reporting of gynaecological specimens for the RWH. The Board had its full complement of Directors and there was a move to a more skills-based Board. VCS proposed a mammography register. New RWH facility opened by the Minister of Health on 11 March at a ceremony held in the mezzanine area. The first practical in-depth course for pathologists wishing to report cytology was conducted for four weeks from 1-26 July 1991. 2 x two week courses for scientists were held, both oversubscribed. VCS was reporting approximately 50% of the State’s smears.

1991

National Cervical Screening Program established as joint initiative of Australian State and Territory Governments.
1991

1991

The Service changed its name to Victorian Cytology Service (VCS). Funding was linked to doing at least 250,000 smears with 99% of smears reported within 5 days. There was spirited competition with the private sector. VCCR was fully operational. 247,000 pap test registrations were done by VCCR from 16 private laboratories and 9 hospital laboratories. With VCS added, registrations exceeded 505,000.

1990

The Commonwealth agreed to pay $1.5 million, matched by the State Government, to improve the Service in a number of areas.
1990

1990

The Commonwealth agreed to pay $1.5 million, matched by the State Government, to improve the Service in a number of areas. A courier Service was introduced as were Reply-paid envelopes. A Physician was employed, Dr Stella Heley. Target turnaround time was set at 95% reported within 5 days (in 88/89, only 19% reached the target). A decision was made to relocate to the RWH in a purpose built unit incorporated in a car park on the corner of Faraday and Swanston Streets Carlton. VCCR commenced in August 1989 with a series of pilot programs. It was the first such register in Australia. A new Board was created post the Working Party report, 5 women were appointed. Women have comprised half or the majority of the Board since this time.

1989

Bill passed. Amendment to Cancer Act 1958 Cancer (Central Registers) Act 1989. VCCR established under direction of Heather Mitchell - the first state-based Pap test Registry.
1989

1989

The Working Party’s report was released in July 1988. The Working Party recommended extensive modification of the Board of Management. Private providers had a courier service, VC(G)S had all smears mailed (at the doctor’s expense). Turnaround time at VC(G)S reached approximately three weeks. One of the Working Party’s recommendations was for the establishment of the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry (VCCR), auspiced by VC(G)S. The Service considered two proposed relocation sites, consequent on the closure of PHH. Neither were desirable (both falling way short on floor space) and the Board narrowly voted to move to Clayton. A subsequent revised proposal from the Royal Women’s Hospital was then received.

1988

Review of cervical screening in Australia commissioned. Working Party on Central Registry at ACCV and proposal to establish Registry. Extensive community consultation.
1988

1988

There was a loss of a considerable number of Scientists (including the Chief Scientist), mostly to the private sector where salaries, working conditions and staff structures were much more attractive. Despite extensive Australian and worldwide advertising, there were few applicants for the Director’s position. The Acting Director, Dr Gabriele Medley accepted the position of Director in November 1987. A new Chief Scientist, Ms Mary Seyfang was appointed. There was an 8.5% reduction in the number of smears received. There was aggressive marketing by the private sector. Approval was received to refit the newly allocated space on the sixth floor of the Clinical Sciences Block, which would house the Epidemiology Unit, the Training Unit and the three Lektriever filing units (to be purchased). The Service continued to be the only cytology training institution in Victoria. The Health Department convened a working party to look at a number of aspects of the Service’s future.

1987

Report of Anti Cancer Council of Victoria Working Party on Mass Screening for cervical cancer recommending formal statewide database.
1987

1987

Dr Drake resigned in April 1987 after 23 years as Director. An increasing number of smears were being done in the private sector which were not incorporated for meaningful epidemiological data. The concept of a State Wide Registry was being proposed. Major research activities were of an Epidemiological nature, using a single database of over 4 million smears, one of the largest in the world.

1986

A survey by the Anti-Cancer Council showed that 20% of Victorian women had never had a cervical smear.
1986

1986

A survey by the Anti-Cancer Council showed that 20% of Victorian women had never had a cervical smear. There were the first suggestions that certain groups of women were under screened, including certain ethnic communities and possibly some geographically isolated or financially deprived groups. A Business Manager and Medical Epidemiologist were appointed. The entire database was being transferred to computer, which would allow analysis of data since the Service began. Over 4 million smears had been processed.

1985

May 1985 was a record month for smears, 29,442 were received.
1985

1985

May 1985 was a record month for smears, 29,442 were received. Wages costs includes a disproportionately high level of overtime and penalty rates due largely to repeated computer failures. There were significant changes to the Service’s report recommendations. Space, staff and equipment problems remain. A new computer system and software was installed.

1984

There were the first reports of occupationally related illnesses at the Service.
1984

1984

There were the first reports of occupationally related illnesses at the Service. A number of both clerical and technical staff had developed stress related disabilities, teno-synovitis being the most common. These were related to the use of the VDU’s and the microscope.

1983

Sir Lance Townsend, founding chairman died.
1983

1983

Sir Lance Townsend, founding chairman died. He was Chairman until his death. VC(G)S hosted a seminar “Cervical Cancer Screening – Achievements and Aspirations”, opened by the Minister of Health. There continued a critical shortage of qualified and experienced cytotechnologists.

1982

On the 28th May 1982, the Minister for Health, The Honourable T. W. Roper visited the Service and personally supervised the registration of the three millionth smear.
1982

1982

On the 28th May 1982, the Minister for Health, The Honourable T. W. Roper visited the Service and personally supervised the registration of the three millionth smear. A staff freeze was still in operation since 1978. The Service was restricted to 50.92 FTE.

1981

Despite a recommended two-yearly screening interval, Victorian women appeared to have set their own “mean interval” of 3.5 years.
1981

1981

Despite a recommended two-yearly screening interval, Victorian women appeared to have set their own “mean interval” of 3.5 years.

1980

In December 1979, VC(G)S celebrated 15 years.
1980

1980

In December 1979, VC(G)S celebrated 15 years. There was a critical shortage of Cytopathologists in Australia and worldwide. There were now two Computer Scientists. Typists, clerks and key punch operators were being replaced by VDU Operators and Computer Clerks. Mortality rates for cervical cancer pre and post the introduction of the screening service showed a fall of 62%.

1979

Medical staffing continued to be a cause of concern since at no time since the inception of the Service had a stable medical staff structure been achieved.
1979

1979

Medical staffing continued to be a cause of concern since at no time since the inception of the Service had a stable medical staff structure been achieved. This was thought to be due to the difficulty in finding Histopathologists with training in cytology. Cytotechnologists were in limited supply but the involvement of the Service in training programs has ensured a reasonable level of technical staffing. One of the Cytotechnologists took the role of Computer Scientist. Cytology 1 & 2, Anatomical Pathology 1, and Advanced Clinical Cytology were taught entirely by the Service and PHH for RMIT.

1978

There was a reorganisation of medical staff with four Pathologists employed within the Department of Anatomical Pathology.
1978

1978

There was a reorganisation of medical staff with four Pathologists employed within the Department of Anatomical Pathology, PHH, and involved part-time in the Service, equivalent to 1.75 EFT. Dr Gabriele Medley was appointed Deputy Director. An on-site computer was acquired, a Univac V77/600 mini-computer to form the basis of an on-line computer system. Software was to be developed to replace virtually all the existing clerical activities.

1977

RMIT established a degree course in applied science, which included Anatomical Pathology 1.
1977

1977

RMIT established a degree course in applied science, which included Anatomical Pathology 1. The cytology part of this subject was taught at the Service. RMIT Cytology 1 and 2 for the Diploma of Medical Technology continued to be taught in collaboration with PHH. Staff efficiency increased from 2622 smears per staff member in 1966 to 5198 in 1977

1976

The introduction of Medicare bulk billing allowed other laboratories to provide an apparently “free” service.
1976

1976

The introduction of Medicare bulk billing allowed other laboratories to provide an apparently “free” service. This created competition for the Service and threatened the concept of the co-ordinated state-wide screening service by preventing the accumulation and analysis of data.

1975

The screened population coverage reached over 90% in some age groups.
1975

1975

The screened population coverage reached over 90% in some age groups.

1974

Staff efficiency was calculated to have doubled since the inception of the Service.
1974

1974

Staff efficiency was calculated to have doubled since the inception of the Service. There were continuing difficulties in achieving adequate medical staffing due to a worldwide shortage of trained cytopathologists. The first data was released showing a drop in mortality rates for carcinoma of the cervix in Victoria.

1973

The Clinical Cytology II subject commenced at RMIT.
1973

1973

The Clinical Cytology II subject commenced at RMIT, taught by the School of Cytotechnology (PHH and VC(G)S). This now created a formal qualification for a career cytotechnologist.

1972

The average smear cost for the year was $1.16.
1972

1972

The average smear cost for the year was $1.16. The increased uses of computers created a noise problem for the screening areas. All records since inception were punch carded and transferred to magnetic tape, allowing the first data analysis.

1971

137,717 smears were received, with 487 “positive” cases.
1971

1971

137,717 smears were received, with 487 “positive” cases. For the first time, three trainee cytotechnicians were employed. Short films were used on television to promote the screening program.

1970

Punch cards were used for ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ records, which were transferred onto magnetic tape.
1970

1970

Punch cards were used for ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ records, which were transferred onto magnetic tape. There was limited data analysis possible. Follow up procedures were largely established by this time.

1969

The Service moved into new premises on the third floor of the new clinical school at Prince Henry’s Hospital.
1969

1969

The Service moved into new premises on the third floor of the new clinical school at Prince Henry’s Hospital. Two screening rooms were established totalling 32 screeners. All the screeners were women. The Cytology 1 subject (taught by VC(G)S and PHH) was introduced into RMIT courses.

1968

Staff were divided into Cytotechnologists, Senior Cytotechnicians and Cytotechnicians (screeners).
1968

1968

Staff were divided into Cytotechnologists (Science or Diploma graduates trained in diagnostic cytology), Senior Cytotechnicians and Cytotechnicians (screeners). There was greater stability in the screener group after the employment of a group of married women on a part time basis (5 half days per week). A follow-up system was implemented from 1 January 1968. The Anti-Cancer Council advertised the Pap test as a “cell test”.

1967

Screeners were mostly girls straight from matriculation.
1967

1967

Screeners were mostly girls straight from matriculation. There was no recognised qualification for a trained cytotechnologist. Television advertising for Pap tests commenced. It was estimated that 10-15% of adult Victorian women had been screened.

1966

Over the first 18 months, 70,878 smears were examined, which was approximately 7% of the adult female population in Victoria.
1966

1966

Over the first 18 months, 70,878 smears were examined, which was approximately 7% of the adult female population in Victoria. The cost of a smear was $1.08.

1965

Victorian Clinical Gynaecology Service established.
1965

1965

The Service officially commenced functioning on 1st January 1965 in the Pathology Department of Prince Henry’s Hospital. After period of training, screening commenced in May 1965.

1964

Victorian Cytology (Gynaecological) Service was formed on 9th December 1964.
1964

1964

Victorian Cytology (Gynaecological) Service was formed on 9th December 1964 following discussions between the Minister of Health (The Hon. R. W. Mack MLC, the Hospitals and Charities Commission, the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, and the Board of Management of Prince Henry’s Hospital. On 11th December, Dr Michael Drake (Pathologist and Cytologist) was appointed Director of the Service.