New campaign is launched to tackle declining cervical screening rates
Tuesday 21 January 2020
To mark Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (20 – 26 January 2020), NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is launching a new Cervical Screening Saves Lives campaign which aims to raise awareness and improve the uptake of cervical screening across Northumberland.
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites eligible women between the ages of 25 and 64 years to attend their GP practice for a smear test, every 3 or 5 years. The programme has made a significant impact on cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year. However, nationally we are now experiencing a decline in take up rates and figures are now at a 20-year low.
The ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign has been running successfully in Middlesbrough over the last 12 months; resulting in an increase in uptake. Due to this success, the Northern Cancer Alliance has provided funding to extend the campaign to other areas of the North East to support a regional approach in tackling declining screening rates.
Dr Robin Hudson, medical director and GP cancer lead at the CCG, said: “Cervical screening looks for cell changes before it develops into cancer and that is why it’s important that women do not ignore their screening invitation.
“We are so pleased to be rolling out this this campaign in Northumberland. Some women may be frightened or embarrassed about the test, and I’m hoping this campaign will help reduce those fears and tackle some of the myths around the test.”
Dr Hudson, GP in Ponteland, continued: “If any woman is apprehensive about screening, I would urge them to speak to their GP or practice nurse and look at some of the campaign materials which can give more information about what to expect. These life-saving tests are vital in detecting and preventing cervical cancer.”
Although Northumberland has one of the highest screening rates in the North East, there are some areas where uptake is declining.
Dr Hudson added: “I’m hoping this campaign will help raise awareness about these tests, alleviate some of the fears which surround them and ultimately help reduce the mortality rates.”
The Cervical Screening Saves Lives campaign is part of a regional partnership between the Northern Cancer Alliance, CCGs, primary care, Cancer Research UK – Facilitator Programme, NHS England Screening and Immunisation Team and local authorities.