The experience of the Northern region using the 1995 draft National Gynaecological Cervical Cytology External Quality Assurance (EQA) Scheme is given. Over three rounds, 390 staff reporting Cervical Cytology took part, and using a cumulative non-numeric marking scheme, five participants were deemed "unacceptable" at the end of three rounds. A total of 3450 responses were given to the 40 test slides used, with an overall false-positive rate of 5.9% and a false-negative rate of 1.4%. Grading was assessed for pathologists, and many appeared to perform badly by accumulating discrepancies for non-clinically-significant grading differences. The problems of slide selection/staining and grading consistency/accuracy are highlighted. This EQA scheme serves its dual function of education and identifying poor performance. It must be seen as a viable EQA scheme, although other options must be considered, given advances in technology.