Drive to improve cervical screening rates in Northumberland
A new campaign has been launched to raise awareness and improve the uptake of cervical screening across Northumberland.
The launch by NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) comes as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs until January 26.
The NHS cervical screening programme invites eligible women between the ages of 25 and 64 to attend their GP practice for a smear test every three or five 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, but more recently there has been a decline in national take-up rates and figures are now at a 20-year low.
The campaign – Cervical Screening Saves Lives – 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 is funding extending the campaign to other areas to support a regional approach, however, Northumberland’s screening rate in 2018-19 (79%) was above both the national and North East averages.
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.”
Although Northumberland has one of the highest screening rates in the North East, there are some areas where uptake is declining.
Dr Hudson, who works as a GP in Ponteland, added: “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.
“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.”
For more information about the campaign, visit www.screeningsaveslives.co.uk