Following this month's Cervical Screening Awareness Week, I am pleased to be supporting the campaign and highlight to women of Rochester and Strood the potential life-saving benefits of cervical screening (smear tests).
It is amazing that cervical screening now prevents up to 75% of cervical cancers from developing and saves an estimated 5,000 lives across the UK every year. However one in four women still do not attend when invited.
I am pleased to join Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to highlight that more needs to be done to make it easier for women to access a screening appointment. We are calling for a greater range of appointment times at GP practices, increased access through sexual health services and innovation including the introduction of self-sampling.
Cervical screening is largely delivered in GP practices with five million women invited every year in the UK. However, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found a worrying one in eight women find it difficult or even impossible to book an appointment. 7.4% of women were told no appointments at their GP practice were available the last time they tried to book.
This is extremely concerning and is why I am committed to working with local and national health partners to ensure things change for the better. If we can begin to set a trend across Medway and get a system in place where appointments are more accessible to working and non-working women then we can drive it forwards elsewhere.