Health & Fitness
Liverpool GP practices create a video awareness campaign to urge women to go for a cervical screening
1 month ago
GP practices in Liverpool have created a video awareness campaign to urge women to go for cervical screening – as around four in 10 people in the city ignore the call to have this vital check.
A former England football international and a patient representative of Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance, as well as cancer survivors and clinicians, feature in the videos, which include explanations of why people should attend their screening, how to book one and what happens when they have it.
Latest NHS figures show fewer people in Liverpool attend their smear test than the average, with 62% going for one compared with 69% across the rest of England, which is one of the lowest rates in the North West.
Screening helps to prevent cervical cancer by using a highly effective test to check for HPV, found in more than 99% of all cervical cancers and which may cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix. If left untreated, over time these abnormal cells can turn into cancer.
The NHS has pledged to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 by making it as easy as possible for people to get the lifesaving HPV vaccination and increasing cervical screening uptake. Ahead of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 22-28), Liverpool GP practices within the SWAGGA Primary Care Network have created videos to improve knowledge of the test and increase take-up of screening to help reduce the level of cervical cancer over time.
Former Liverpool, Everton and England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis features in one of the videos, as does Cancer Alliance patient representative and former nurse Rita Doyle, who talks about her own cancer diagnosis through a smear test.
“It is so important for people to attend their free NHS cervical screening. We are all busy and it is easy to put something like this off. My cervical cancer was found through a smear test and going for that check definitely saved my life – so please don’t ignore your invitation to attend.
“I’d also encourage anyone who has previously received an invitation and may have been unable to attend at the time, not to wait until you get another invitation before contacting your GP practice. You can still book a cervical screening appointment even if you were invited weeks, months or years ago.”
Rachel says of cervical cancer in the video:
“It’s something that you won’t get signs and symptoms of necessarily and it can be detected by a simple test. Cervical smear test – get it done!”
Gina Barnett, SWAGGA PCN Manager, said:
“SWAGGA PCN is passionate about making sure our ladies understand the importance of screening and early detection. Educating patients is the only way to make a difference.
“If ladies feel embarrassed or worried, they can speak to one of our team who will support them throughout the process and dispel the fears and concerns that have historically deterred patients booking an appointment. SWAGGA PCN now offers Saturday appointments, too, for those who cannot make one during the week.”
The videos are also aimed at vulnerable groups which may not come forward for cervical screening as often as is usual, including people with learning disabilities and asylum seekers.
Tracey Wright, Deputy Director of Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance, said:
“It can sometimes be difficult to attend your cervical screening for a variety of reasons, including work and childcare commitments, anxiety, and misinformation surrounding the test. But these tests are vital – they can prevent cancer.
“The cervical screening programme saves thousands of lives every year in the UK by preventing cancer and helping to stop the disease in its tracks. It is important that women and people with a cervix, such as trans men and non-binary people assigned female at birth, take part.”
The NHS offers a smear test regularly to people aged 25 to 64 through a letter in the post. They can contact their GP practice to arrange a cervical screening appointment, and some sexual health clinics also offer cervical screening. For more information on NHS cervical screening and how to book an appointment, see www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening.