Women who work for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust are being offered smear tests appointments in special staff clinics to mark the launch of the ‘Cervical Screening Saving Lives’ campaign.
The clinics which have been set up at Royal Bolton Hospital are being put on in support of the Public Health England campaign which wants to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and highlight the benefits of screening.
The campaign (which launched on 5th March) encourages all women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letters, and if they missed previous invites, to book an appointment at their GP practice, reminding them that cervical screening can stop cancer before it starts.
Sister Tina Gundlach-Clare manages the Women’s Health Care Unit. She said: “It’s important that we take care of ourselves and each other, so as a team we organised a series of clinics to support our staff. We know our staff are passionate about caring for their patients and sometimes put caring for themselves at the bottom of their list.
“The best way of protecting yourself against cervical cancer is by attending regular screening appointments when invited, so we wanted to make it really convenient for our staff whom may not be up-to-date with their tests to have their smear test in their break time.”
Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease, which is two deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.
New research from PHE shows that nearly all women eligible for screening (90%) would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer. Despite this, screening is at a 20-year low, with 1 in 4 eligible women (those aged 25 to 64) in the UK not attending their test.
The new PHE campaign provides practical information about how to make the test more comfortable, and gives reassurance to women, who may be fearful of finding out they have cancer, that screening is not a test for cancer.
Regular screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help stop cervical cancer before it starts, as the test identifies potentially harmful cells before they become cancerous, and ensures women get the right treatment as soon as possible.
Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Screening Programmes at PHE said: “The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test.
“We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations. This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.”
Improving cancer detection and diagnosis is a core part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS. The campaign is also being supported by charities, including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
For further information about cervical screening, please search ‘NHS Cervical Screening’ or view the NHS Cervical Screening resources.