As the UK comes together to raise awareness during Cervical Screening Awareness Week, women and people with a cervix in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are being urged to come forward and attend their screening appointments.
The call comes as data shows that in a three-month period around 29% of those eligible did not attend vital screening appointments.
Cervical screening checks the health of your cervix and while it is not a test for cancer, it can help to prevent cancer. It works by checking a sample of cells from your cervix for certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause abnormal changes which may turn into cancer. Women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited to attend their screening appointment by letter.
Eligible people aged 25 to 49 will be invited to attend every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years.
Latest data released by NHS Digital and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust shows that of the 473,627 women and people with a cervix in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (including Portsmouth and Southampton) who were eligible for screening from October to December 2021, only 71% had attended for their test. This was slightly down from July to September 2021 where 72% of those eligible had their test.
Dr Nicola Decker, clinical leader at Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group and GP in North Hampshire said, “We all know how difficult it can be to prioritise our own health and wellbeing sometimes, but it’s important to take the time to look after ourselves too. While many of those eligible are having their cervical screening test, we still need to encourage more eligible people to come forward and get checked.
“If you are scared of have concerns, please speak to your practice, as they will do all they can to make you feel safe and reassured.”
Following their test, patients are usually sent their results directly, around two weeks after their appointment. There is lots of support and information available for people available online or through your practice, so please contact your surgery or look online if you need advice.
Naomi Thelen, a practice nurse at New Horizons Medical Partnership in Totton, carries out cervical screening tests and wants to reiterate the importance of attending. She added, “Everyone has a different experience of cervical screening, and we always want to make sure we can make it better for you. If it’s your first cervical screening or you feel embarrassed or worried or even if you have had a bad experience in the past, make sure you tell the person doing the smear. We are here to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.”
You can watch Naomi's full video below on why it is so important for women to go for their screening and how nurses like herself try and make it as comfortable as possible for you:
More information about cervical screening can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/