https://phescreening.blog.gov.uk/2018/11/30/phe-to-launch-national-cervical-screening-campaign-in-march-2019/

PHE to launch national cervical screening campaign in March 2019

The NHS Cervical Screening 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, coverage is at a 20-year low. Figures published by NHS Digital show that, at 31 March 2018, the percentage of eligible women (aged 25 to 64) screened adequately was 71.4%.

Benefits of cervical screening infographic
Cervical screening helps prevent deaths from cervical cancer

To help address this issue, in March 2019 PHE will launch its first national multimedia cervical screening campaign.

The campaign will:

  • highlight the risks of cervical cancer
  • highlight the preventative benefits of the often misunderstood screening test
  • encourage women of all ages to respond to their screening invitation
  • encourage women to consider booking an appointment if they have missed previous invitations
  • aim to tackle issues of fear and embarrassment

It is likely there will be significant media interest in cervical cancer in the early part of 2019 due to cervical cancer prevention week (21 to 27 January) and the 10th anniversary of the death of TV reality star Jade Goody, who sadly died on 22 March 2009.

The PHE campaign will support this interest. Deciding whether to be screened is always a personal choice and this campaign will aim to help more women understand and be less fearful of taking up the offer and improve cervical screening acceptance across England. Ultimately we hope this will help stop more women getting cancer unnecessarily.

Research highlights barriers to screening

Early this year, we started to explore the possibility of a national campaign focused on cervical screening.

To take this forward, the PHE screening team has been working with our counterparts in NHS England and the PHE Marketing team that leads on the Be Clear on Cancer programme of work.

In collaboration with academics and charities, PHE Marketing has been reviewing coverage data to determine which women to prioritise and how to best tackle the issue.

In addition, PHE Marketing has conducted research with women least likely to take up the offer to understand their point of view and what they would need.

The campaign will address a number of barriers to screening highlighted by this research.

These barriers include:

  • lack of knowledge about cervical cancer and the purpose of cervical screening
  • embarrassment about the test
  • fear of pain
  • fear that the test will result in a diagnosis of cancer

Research also tells us that women feel empowered after getting screened and feel the need to protect and empower other women.

Barriers to cervical screening
Some of the reasons why many women do not attend screening

Important changes

We have made sure the information in the campaign is up to date. Cervical screening is evolving and there are many important changes, including:

Hopefully all these developments will combine to mean that one day we will be able to say that it is possible that nobody should die from cervical cancer.

We do not know for certain what response the campaign will generate but this will be an excellent opportunity to improve women’s understanding of the test and see more of them choosing to take up the offer.

Professor Anne Mackie, PHE Director of Screening said:

The Be Clear on Cancer campaign will play a vital role in raising the awareness of cervical screening, as it’s a real concern that fewer women, particularly younger women, are taking screening up.

We know that for some women worries about embarrassment or discomfort can put them off taking the test. We hope the campaign will make it clearer to them what the test involves so they can decide if it’s right for them.

We will share more information about the campaign as and when it’s available. In the meantime, please inform colleagues of the exciting news that the first England-wide cervical screening campaign will start in March 2019.

We look forward to your support.

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67 comments

  1. Comment by john iverach ( Australia) posted on

    why don't you use a TruScreen device which gives an IMMEDIATE result before the patient leaves the surgery and and takes about 1.5 minutes

    Reply
    • Replies to john iverach ( Australia)>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear John
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Cervical screening in England is delivered in accordance with recommendations from the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC), the independent body which advises ministers. The programme is currently in the process of implementing primary human papillomavirus (HPV) screening, which is a new way of examining cervical screening (smear) samples, where the check for HPV is the first test carried out. Evidence points towards a reduction in cervical cancer with this way of screening compared to the current method.
      I hope this helps
      Best wishes

      Reply
  2. Comment by Izzy posted on

    Could the PHE kindly reveal the cost of the campaign to the public? In a time of austerity in the NHS, with hospitals struggling, huge waiting lists, poor access to medical care generally speaking, how can afford to throw money at a campaign for a rare disease? So many more diseases are more common and affect thousands of people and yet, there is a lack of funding for a timely x-ray, appointments with doctors etc. Such misspent money.
    Of course, you are not post this. It is against your screening programme.

    Reply
    • Replies to Izzy>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear Izzy
      Since its establishment in 1988, cervical screening has saved an estimated 5,000 lives a year. However, the number of women attending has fallen to a 20 year low. It has been estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented, reducing the burden on the NHS and ultimately, saving lives.
      The new ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign aims to drive awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and highlight the preventative benefits of screening.
      Best wishes

      Reply
  3. Comment by Tendayi Moses posted on

    Unfortunately I negatively experienced the consent to cervical screening. Once when I joined a new GP surgery, part of the joining process was an automatic screening test (regardless how long ago it was done). Once a GP refused to prescribe contraceptive unless I made an appointment there and then. Many many times I was pressurised into having one by different GPs. This is the reason why I refuse to attend now. The conduct of GPs and their financial incentives must be investigated if one wants to raise the participation.

    Reply
    • Replies to Tendayi Moses>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear Tendayi
      Thank you for your comment. Doctors and nurses are aware cervical screening is an offer and clinicians should respect a woman’s choice. There is clear information to help women who want to decline their invitation in the offer letter.
      Best wishes

      Reply
  4. Comment by K Barnes posted on

    I have tried to book a screening at the GP, only to be told that there are no appointments available for the foreseeable future due to the success of the campaign - I can be put on a waiting list but they have not idea how long the list is and how long I will need to wait. Surely it would have been sensible to plan for the effects of a successful campaign by ensuring that resources were available to deal with the inevitable increased demand - maybe for a set period extra (retired or otherwise) trained nurses could have been paid on ad hoc basis to help with a surge in requests, or a team set up in each area to support local surgeries.

    Reply
    • Replies to K Barnes>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Thank you for your feedback.
      PHE worked closely with NHS England to ensure advanced notice was given about the campaign so preparations could be made for more women wanting to be screened.

      Reply
  5. Comment by Melanie Hodkin posted on

    It would be really helpful if surgeries could offer this outside of working hours ie Saturday or early evening. I have twice taken annual leave for the appointment then to be cancelled on the day because the nurse at our surgery was sick.
    Regards
    Mel

    Reply
  6. Comment by Carolyn Oxby posted on

    I received a letter saying I was due my Cervical screening in January this year, I opted to go to my local WISH Clinic, only to be told they don't do Cervical Screening anymore as funding has been withdrawn & I need to contact my GP, I did & they are not screening until at least April as they haven't got the staff !!
    No point in Government Campaigns & Celebrity endorsements if its not actually possible to have the test...... lets hope when I finally get tested there is nothing wrong !

    Reply
    • Replies to Carolyn Oxby>

      Comment by Mike Harris posted on

      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your experience. We would suggest that you take up this issue with your GP or local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to enquire further about the service provision in your area. Information about CCGs can be found at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ccg-details/.

      Reply
  7. Comment by Izzy posted on

    Screening is a choice and women have the right to opt out. This is acknowledged here several times. I wonder what the opt out rates are. We know for a fact that about 71 per cent screen, about 26 do not and we have about 3 per cent remaining. Is this the opt out rate? Why are the opt rates never publicly discussed?

    Reply
    • Replies to Izzy>

      Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

      Thank you for your comment. Screening is a choice for women and we aim to provide enough information for women to make an informed choice. We do not collect or produce data on the number of women who choose to be ceased from receiving further screening invitations from the programme.

      Reply
      • Replies to Ruth Stubbs>

        Comment by Frances posted on

        I’m afraid the information presented is rather one sided. It infers that screening is “ lifesaving “ without explicity mentioning the downsides. Angela Raffle has researched this extensively & along with Muir Gray has highlighted that screening isn’t perfect and that potential participants deserve to know this to help them choose . When targets for screening are set , the right” choice “ has already been made

        Reply
        • Replies to Frances>

          Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

          Thank you for your comments. Yes, you are correct. The cervical screening information leaflet ‘NHS cervical screening: Helping you decide’, which is given to all women invited for screening, emphasises that screening is a choice. The leaflet lists both the possible benefits and possible risks of screening.

          Reply
      • Replies to Ruth Stubbs>

        Comment by Kat Rehman posted on

        Please explain why you don't keep opt out records when according to you cervical cancer is rampant and so dangerous? Surely you want women to screen?

        Reply
        • Replies to Kat Rehman>

          Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

          Dear Kat
          Thank you for getting in touch. Screening is a choice and women have the right to choose not to take part in cervical screening.
          Best wishes

          Reply
  8. Comment by Sarah Barnes posted on

    Having read all the comments on this blog, please remember that there are many countries worldwide that have no screening services and extremely high rates of cervical cancer, such as in Africa and India. Be thankful that we have a screening programme that offers screening to women. It does work and it does save lives and I should know having had cervical cancer.

    Yes it is uncomfortable to have a speculum examination but at least women have the opportunity to chose to have the test or not. Millions of women worldwide do not have any choice. Be grateful for what we receive, be it that nothing is perfect in life. The NHS should be applauded for it's tireless work to ensure screening continues. Nothing is perfect in this work but the screening programme does work. Support it rather than pick holes in it.

    Reply
    • Replies to Sarah Barnes>

      Comment by Frances posted on

      Afraid screening is lot more nuanced than this . It’s not “picking holes “ to request balanced information. Screening has downsides. It’s can harm as well as help . Potential participants deserve balanced information to give informed consent which is a legal & ethical right..

      Reply
    • Replies to Sarah Barnes>

      Comment by Caroline Black posted on

      There are lifestyle and wider health issues in those countries which contribute to the higher rate of cervical cancer. These aren't present in the UK so this comparison isn't really correct or fair.

      Reply
      • Replies to Caroline Black>

        Comment by Sarah Barnes posted on

        Dear Caroline. Thanks for your comments. Regardless of other factors in less developed countries, the UK is one of a handful of countries in the world where screening is organised and also free. I am eternally grateful for the screening programme as it saved my life. I get very disheartened to read criticism about the screening programme or just about the NHS in general.

        Reply
    • Replies to Sarah Barnes>

      Comment by Kat Rehman posted on

      There is no need for a speculum exam when there is a self test kit available. Dutch and Finnish women have had this option for years now

      Reply
      • Replies to Kat Rehman>

        Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

        Thank you for your comment.
        We understand that self-testing would be more acceptable to lots of women.
        HPV primary screening is currently being introduced into the cervical screening programme and will be fully implemented in England by December 2019. This will give us the opportunity to evaluate HPV self testing. It is clear that the effectiveness of self testing on uptake and how safely it can be introduced into a large screening programme relies on all sorts of practical and social issues and therefore evidence from one country cannot simply be assumed to work everywhere.
        The UK's independent national screening committee recently held a public consultation regarding self testing as a strategy to address non-attendance. We hope to hear the outcome soon.

        Reply
  9. Comment by Ellie Green posted on

    I would like to know, if my GP Practice has my mobile number on file, do they have the right to text me about screening? Do they need prior permission beforehand? Can I opt-out of texts if I so choose? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Replies to Ellie Green>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear Ellie
      Women may be sent a text message about their cervical screening appointment. GPs do not need to get explicit permission before doing this, but they are required to be open and transparent with patients about the fact that they will contact them to offer appropriate services.
      Please be reassured that women who receive text messages have the choice to opt out of getting them if they want.
      Best wishes

      Reply
  10. Comment by Ellie Green posted on

    Disappointed that none of my comments have as yet been published, despite wanting to know more about the upcoming campaign. You say that research indicates that many women do not necessarily decline testing because they understand the procedure, however will the new testing campaign therefore aim to inform women about testing methods and what normal and abnormal results mean, especially given the fact that HPV primary testing is not as yet standardised across the UK?

    Reply
    • Replies to Ellie Green>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear Ellie

      Thanks for the comment.

      The campaign will raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and highlight the preventative benefits of screening.

      Research by Public Health England shows that there are a number of barriers to screening including concern that it might be painful and embarrassing, which the campaign will also aim to tackle.

      Information on the test and normal and abnormal results features in our helping you decide leaflet and on the NHS website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/results)

      Best wishes

      Reply
    • Replies to Ellie Green>

      Comment by CDNUK posted on

      Unfortunately Ellie, I have had the same problem with comments not being allowed! Basically, if you are Pro screening your post will be accepted, but if you are not then it will not be posted. They say we are not allowed to dissuade others from screening......but it's okay to persuade! Disgusting approach if you ask me! I get 3 reminders per year, I have signed & returned (twice) a tiny cut-out slip & I mean tiny, to opt-out but what a surprise they still keep sending the letters/invites! 80% is required in uptake to make this test viable, so women are targets!

      Reply
      • Replies to CDNUK>

        Comment by Nick Johnstone-Waddell posted on

        Thanks for your recent comments on the cervical screening campaign. As we’ve said before, deciding whether to be screened is a personal decision that each individual can only make for themselves. PHE’s role is to support the process of informed choice by providing accurate, balanced information for NHS screening services to use.

        We’re happy to publish blog comments that meet our moderation guidelines (https://phescreening.blog.gov.uk/terms/) and that advance the public discussion in a useful way. People certainly don’t need to agree with us all the time. But there are often occasions when it makes more sense for us to send a direct reply to someone who’s made a comment. Hope that helps.

        Reply
  11. Comment by Louise posted on

    Shouldn't a crucial part of the message be that unprotected sex greatly increases the risk of HPV which is the key cause of cervical cancer?
    I can't see that any campaigns in the UK educate people on the link between unprotected sex and cervical cancer.

    Why?

    Reply
    • Replies to Louise>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear Louise

      Thanks for your comment.

      HPV is a common virus that 4 out of 5 of us will have at some point during our lives. HPV lives on our skin, so it is easy to get and difficult to completely protect against.

      Information about HPV and its transmission through any type of sexual activity with a man or woman is made clear in supporting cervical screening programme leaflets and on the NHS website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/results).

      Best wishes

      Reply
  12. Comment by Ellie Green posted on

    I was part of the cohort group invited to take part in sharing my views about screening.
    There is a growing number of women who research the evidence concerning screening and decide to make an informed decision on screening, yet almost every publication I have read on screening suggests non-attendees are frightened, embarrassed etc. In some other articles, other terms are suggested to imply why they are averse to screening - and not one is positive. Why is it never acknowledged that some women decide not to screen, especially given the current climate surrounding women's rights to be heard etc? This is not empowering.
    I also suggest that the NHS be more honest with women about false positive and false negative rates - only highlighting the "positives" does not engender trust. Let's not kid ourselves that young women with access to the internet cannot discover evidence-based information for themselves. They will not revere screening bodies if they deem them to be withholding information from them.
    Lastly, if you wish to ensure that screening continues, you need to consider piloting the self-test HPV Kit. Women (quite rightly) are asking why a test devised in the 1930s is still used to "screen" for "cancer" - particularly in an age of robotic-assisted surgery. Start listening to women. Stop dismissing them.

    Reply
    • Replies to Ellie Green>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Please see the following blog, which is one example of how we promote informed choice:

      How do we help people decide if screening is the right choice for them?
      https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2015/08/03/how-do-we-help-people-decide-if-screening-is-the-right-choice-for-them/

      The blog talks about false positives (when people are told they have a risk or problem when they don’t) and false negatives (where tests tell people they don’t have a problem when in fact they do).

      With regard to your other point, we understand that self-testing would be more acceptable to lots of women. HPV primary screening is currently being introduced into the cervical screening programme and will be fully implemented in England by next year. This will give us the opportunity to evaluate HPV self testing. The UK's independent national screening committee recently held a public consultation regarding self testing as a strategy to address non-attendance. We hope to hear the outcome soon.

      Reply
    • Replies to Ellie Green>

      Comment by CDNUK posted on

      The self-test HPV Kit has been used for years in other countries, yet here it is continuously put on the back burner whilst they collate evidence, the evidence has been proven elsewhere so why is the UK so far behind! Apparently self testing may be offered to persistent non screeners all in the name of increasing uptake only! I repeat MAY be offered in the future.

      Reply
      • Replies to CDNUK>

        Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

        Thank you for your comment.
        We understand that self-testing would be more acceptable to lots of women.
        HPV primary screening is currently being introduced into the cervical screening programme and will be fully implemented in England by December 2019. This will give us the opportunity to evaluate HPV self testing. It is clear that the effectiveness of self testing on uptake and how safely it can be introduced into a large screening programme relies on all sorts of practical and social issues and therefore evidence from one country cannot simply be assumed to work everywhere.
        The UK's independent national screening committee recently held a public consultation regarding self testing as a strategy to address non-attendance. We hope to hear the outcome soon.

        Reply
  13. Comment by Lynn posted on

    Public health England , I thought it was up to the individual wether they wanted to be screened or not. So in March 2019 we have to be inundated with adverts on Tv ect about going for a smear test. My view will certainly not change if i wish to attend or not. May i also point out its about time PHE did more about MALE health and well being .As men seem to be a poor relation in this country as nothing is said about male cancers..

    Reply
    • Replies to Lynn>

      Comment by Anne Mackie posted on

      Thank you for making contact.
      Screening is an individual choice and our information and public literature is very clear on this. This choice needs to be supported by the best information we can pass on. Lots of research tells us that many women don’t take up cervical screening because they are frightened, their services aren’t easily accessible or they are embarrassed, not because they understand screening and don’t want it. We will not press people to have screening if they don’t want it but we can’t allow women to miss out on something for the sake of not letting them know what is involved. There have been campaigns about bowel, prostate, lung, stomach and kidney cancers or symptoms that would make one suspicious. There is absolutely no gender bias in the work to consider or approve screening programmes.

      Reply
      • Replies to Anne Mackie>

        Comment by Elsa posted on

        Will the campaign address the issue of false positives, false negatives and be honest about the prevalence of these issues? Will you be telling them what an abnormal result actually means and what treatment entails? You also allude to the women in your study not understanding cervical screening. Will the campaign aim to inform them in the broadest possible sense?

        Reply
        • Replies to Elsa>

          Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

          Dear Elsa

          Thanks for your comment.

          Information sent to women with their invitation is very clear regarding the chances of getting an abnormal result and what an abnormal result means. There is also information about this on the NHS UK website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/results).

          The campaign will signpost women for more information.

          Best wishes

          Reply
          • Replies to Andrew Anderson>

            Comment by Susan Ogden posted on

            Hi
            As a nurse colposcopist I am pleased to see the positive steps PHE is making in regards to encouraging women to attend for cervical screening.
            I would like to suggest that we do not refer to individuals as being positive or negative for HPV as this is misleading.
            I never advise a patient they are HPV positive. Instead I explain about low risk and high risk HPV types.
            A normal smear test does not mean no HPV is present and we need to de-stigmatise HPV.
            Most of us acquire HPV and are completely unaware.
            Labelling individuals as being positive for HPV is not conducive to patient's wellbeing and understanding of HPV.

    • Replies to Lynn>

      Comment by Elsa posted on

      I know a great deal of women who have told me that they have researched the test and concluded that based on its fallibility, and its nature, they will not screen. But they are too scared to tell their doctor this because they fear confrontation. They make excuses that they are too busy etc in an effort to avoid the doctors. This is compounded by the fact that they are still asked about screening at each and every consult (an unacceptable premise in Britain in 2019). I would suggest that a lot more women than is supposed, are aware of the reliability of this test. Many (quite rightly in my opinion) are also unhappy about the invasive nature of the test. A commentator has posted a statistic further down this page that suggests that 86% of Scottish women would prefer to self-test. Why isn't the NHS trialling this??

      Reply
      • Replies to Elsa>

        Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

        Thank you for your comment.
        The cervical screening leaflet ‘Helping you decide’ provides information on cervical screening, including an explanation of false positives and false negatives and what these results mean. The leaflet can be found here: https://bit.ly/2Jg9bbc
        Information is also available on NHS.UK: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/
        We are clear in the information we produce that screening is a choice and should not be forced on people who wish to decline.
        You can of course discuss your concerns with a doctor or nurse. They are aware cervical screening is an offer and clinicians should respect a woman’s choice.
        There is clear information to help women who want to decline their invitation in the offer letter.
        Best wishes

        Reply
  14. Comment by Mint posted on

    I wonder how much more money will be spent trying to increase the uptake of cervical screening. The current test consisting of an internal exam using a speculum is not always a comfortable experience. Why can't the money be used to develop a test that more women would find acceptable?

    Reply
    • Replies to Mint>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      We understand that self-testing would be more acceptable to lots of women.
      HPV primary screening is currently being introduced into the cervical screening programme and will be fully implemented in England by next year. This will give us the opportunity to evaluate HPV self testing.
      The UK's independent national screening committee recently held a public consultation regarding self testing as a strategy to address non-attendance. We hope to hear the outcome soon.

      Reply
  15. Comment by Katie McDonald posted on

    A major reason for young women not attending now is that they have had HPV vaccinations. Those of us in healthcare know this is not a panacea but simply a level of protection against SOME of the strains which cause cancer. Many of the vaccinated population think they are protected against ALL cervical cancer! Please make this a focus of your campaign.

    Reply
    • Replies to Katie McDonald>

      Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

      Dear Katie
      Thank you for your comment. We appreciate it can be confusing for women who have been vaccinated. However, the vaccination does not provide comprehensive cover for all high risk strains of HPV, so screening remains important. We will ensure the correct messaging is provided in the campaign.

      Reply
  16. Comment by Laurence Carter posted on

    Its great to see this happening. I have 4 questions.

    1. Will there be a high-level framing message for the campaign? For example, something like "We're aiming to eliminate cervical cancer in [20] years This is the first major cancer we can prevent and eliminate.". ("Eliminate" and the period would need to be defined.) If this was stated up front by say, the Health Secretary or even the PM, that would provide a powerful context, and indeed would significantly raise awareness in its own right.

    2. Will the campaign aim to bring men into the conversation? At present, it seems that most outreach/literature/messaging around cervical cancer is aimed at women. But we're all fallible and indeed we know that around half of the women who miss/are late for their screening appointments both know that its important and are willing to attend - they just don't get round to it. Perhaps one way would be for their partners to remind them. Many women remind their male partners to go for, say, prostrate screening, yet I suspect that this happens hardly at all the other way round. It may be time to encourage men (or close friends) of women to remind them to go for cervical cancer screening. Suggested tagline: "Keep the women we love in our lives".

    3. Will there be complementary measures undertaken in conjunction with the marketing campagin to strengthen incentives and support for areas with poor screening coverage. For example, financially rewarding GP practices which show significant improvements in screening take up percentages (irrespective of the starting point). Or devoting extra support/resources to the bottom quartile of GP practices?

    4. Will the option of home-based self-sampling be accelerated, particularly for those women who are identified as not being willing to consider screening because they find the procedure at the GP to be unpleasant?

    I ask as someone who is spending a year walking 3,500 miles around the coast of England/Wales to raise awareness that cervical cancer is preventable. My wife died of the disease.

    regards, Laurence Carter

    Reply
    • Replies to Laurence Carter>

      Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

      Dear Mr Carter,
      Thank you for your comments and suggestions.
      PHE screening and immunisation teams are commissioning a disease model that will answer the question of when cervical cancer could be eliminated with reasonable certainty.
      Cervical screening is an individual choice, so the campaign will address women directly. Research with women ahead of the campaign has found there are a complex set of barriers to attendance which are specific and personal to different groups. However, there are high levels of misunderstanding about cervical cancer and the purpose of screening. The campaign will include information about the risks posed by cervical cancer and the protective and preventative benefits of screening.
      The UK National Screening Committee is currently consulting on the proposal to introduce self-sampling for cervical screening. Comments are welcome. See https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/cervicalcancer.
      Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and Jo's Trust's #SmearForSmear campaign are both running from 21 to 27 January. See http://www.jostrust.org.uk/ccpw.
      Kind regards,

      Reply
    • Replies to Laurence Carter>

      Comment by Caroline Black posted on

      I understand the reasons behind wanting to include partners/friends etc but I do think this is perhaps a step too far. I am pleased the campaign will address women directly.

      Involving family and friends could easily create tension and turn the conversation into a negative one.

      Reply
    • Replies to Laurence Carter>

      Comment by Ellie Green posted on

      As a woman, I would not be happy if I was being pressured to attend cervical screening by a male partner. It should be a woman's decision. It also does not support the ethos of female empowerment in my view.

      Reply
    • Replies to Laurence Carter>

      Comment by Ellie Green posted on

      I agree that this campaign should directly address women. As a woman, I would not like to face pressure or awkward conversations with partners, family and friends.

      Reply
  17. Comment by Caroline B posted on

    You clearly state screening is a choice and then go on to say the campaign aims to ‘help women understand.’ The inference here is women who screen can’t possibly know their own mind and have made an informed choice.

    I hope the campaign will highlight and respect informed choice and health professionals will be reminded of their obligation to respect that choice.

    Reply
  18. Comment by Theresa Ayres posted on

    All well and good, and to be encouraged. Just wondering what is being done to address the delayed reporting of smear test results - a family member has been waiting 12 weeks now for results, despite having previously had treatment for pre-cancerous changes. The delay is not helping her mental health!

    Reply
    • Replies to Theresa Ayres>

      Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

      Thank you for the comment. The NHS Cervical Screening Programme is moving to a new screening pathway, HPV primary screening, which will identify more women at risk and save more lives. This new screening pathway will lead to fewer samples needing cyto-screening than at present. In the present system, there is delay in some women receiving their results because of a shortage of cyto-screeners. The laboratories are working hard to address the delays. Three further laboratories have been granted mitigation to implement HPV primary screening and further sites are now putting in plans to increase the capacity. More information on this is available here: https://phescreening.blog.gov.uk/2018/10/25/hpv-primary-cervical-screening-october-2018-update/

      Reply
  19. Comment by Kat Rehman posted on

    I find it very hard to believe women aren't aware of smear tests and the issues around them and I find it even harder to believe they stay away through pain and embarrassment though if they are the current campaigns to reassure them aren't working are they? Will a new campaign really be any different from its predecessors? In a recent survey 86% of Scots women said they would prefer to self test at home. Why is this option not being rolled out here? The Dutch and Finnish women have been offered it for years. And as you state screening is a choice why are you surprised some choose NOT to test?

    Reply
  20. Comment by Duncan posted on

    "Deciding whether to be screened is always a personal choice and this campaign will aim to help more women understand and be less fearful of taking up the offer and improve cervical screening acceptance "
    You focus only on getting women screened & care little about our choice when deciding not to screen. You send the invites, that should be enough!
    Instead you continue with costly campaigns to persuade women -
    "encourage, empowered, coverage, barriers, increase uptake, choosing to take up offer"!
    What about overtreatment rates? What about more honesty?
    Doubtful you will even let my comment through as usual, unless of course I'm in favour of persuasion as I'm not allowed to dissuade!

    Reply
    • Replies to Duncan>

      Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

      A small proportion of women decide not to have the cervical screening test and choose to be ceased from the programme. The coverage of cervical screening – the proportion of eligible women who are screened – is 71%. This leaves around 25% of women who do not take up the offer of screening but have also not chosen to be ceased from the programme. From research, we know that factors such as appointments, timing, travel and the actual time to get the test done can prevent women from attending. For others, fear of the test and embarrassment are factors. The aim of the campaign will be to acknowledge and potentially allay some of these fears and identify obstacles that services can address to improve access.

      Reply
      • Replies to Ruth Stubbs>

        Comment by Caroline Black posted on

        There are plenty of women who don’t wish to screen but haven’t chosen to be ceased from the program as it’s too hard or gets ignored.

        The opt out link is hidden at the back of the leaflet and when you get to the web address, what you have to do is confusing. The invites should have an easy opt out slip attached saving women time and saving GPs and the NHS time and money wasted on reminders that just go in the bin.

        Reply
  21. Comment by Anthony Watson posted on

    Excellent timing. This will take place right in the middle of the process of reducing the number of cytology laboratories in the country from 49 to 9 for conversion to Primary HPV testing. Well done whoever decided to add to the chaos this is already going to cause. Exciting news indeed.

    Reply
    • Replies to Anthony Watson>

      Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

      Thank you for your comment. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England, NHS England and some charities identified the need for a national campaign to address the year-on-year fall in the number of women attending screening and to do our best to address obstacles for women who are missing an opportunity to prevent an avoidable cancer. We acknowledge that a campaign can impact on workloads. We sought opinion from service providers and a decision was taken to start the campaign at the beginning of March 2019 to avoid winter pressures and pressures in primary care. It is anticipated that the campaign will have a gradual impact on coverage.

      Reply
  22. Comment by cytologist posted on

    What a ridiculous time for a campaign

    Reply
  23. Comment by irene stratton posted on

    There was good take-up in Gloucester hospitals when employees were able to be screened in the hospital. Maybe having 'drop in' screening sessions would work?

    Getting an appointment at a GP surgery isn't always easy, getting there during the working day can mean taking time off work.

    Why do you need a trial about text reminders? They've been shown to work - they certainly work for diabetic eye screening - and our hairdressers and dentists wouldn't use them if they didn't work would they?

    How do you know that lesbian and bi-sexual women are non-attenders when this information isn't recorded on health records? Certainly I have never been asked about my sexual orientation by any health professional.

    Reply
    • Replies to irene stratton>

      Comment by Elsa posted on

      Will patients be required to give consent to be texted about screening? What happens if they have my mobile number but I haven't consented to the texting service for screening? What are my rights if I am texted by my GP Surgery but I later request that communication is stopped?

      Reply
      • Replies to Elsa>

        Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

        Dear Elsa
        Patients have control over signing up to text alerts from their GP and can opt out of getting them if they want.
        The purpose of the London study in using texts reminders is to reach the large number of women who may otherwise forget about their cervical screening appointment or don’t get round to it for one reason or another, not those who actively don’t want to be screened.
        Best wishes

        Reply

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