The NHS changes the way it invites you to cervical screenings


The number of women with cervical examination reached a 20-year low, with one in four unable to attend their appointment. But with two women die every day from cervical cancer In the UK – and Pap smears are the most effective means of detecting the disease before it is too late – the government and the NHS want to turn these figures around. In an attempt to address the growing deterioration of the life-saving test, Public Health England (PHE) has launched its very first advertising campaign to inform women about how important it is to have it. The new Cervical Screening Saves Lives & # 39; campaign encourages women to attend their cervical screening, after recent research by charity Jo & # 39; s Cervical Cancer Trust found that 81% of the women questioned were either too late or did not go to their cervical screening because of shame. This shame, mixed with a lack of understanding about what a smear does and what it consists of, has led to so many people choosing to skip it.
As part of the new PHE campaign, it has been announced that the NHS will introduce new screening invitation letters, leaflets and results letters – and this is particularly important. As reported by in 2017, the current wording of the invitation letters will reinforce the "choice" that women have to make to participate or not in their cervical screening. The letters, which are sent every three years to women between the ages of 25 and 49 who invite to be screened, currently have a whole paragraph with the headline & # 39; Your choice & # 39 ;. It says: "It is up to you whether you want your cervical screening or not.To help you make a decision, we have enclosed a leaflet on what cervical screening entails, and the benefits and risks." Next to the letter is a leaflet entitled "NHS cervical screening – helping you decision", which describes exactly what happens during a cervical screening, before the benefits and the risk & # 39; s & # 39; of the smear are weighed.

Emily Hague

If a woman who is now invited to (and attended, I may add) two smears, I know that it is fundamental or I have to go. Clearly no one will actively force me to test a smear. But if I were a woman who felt embarrassed about the idea of ​​exposing myself to a medical professional during the short research – like doing so much – I could read the NHS literature around the screenings and take effective permission not to to go .
The suggestion that a "decision" must be made about whether or not to have a screening certainly plays its life-saving potential and certainly encourages some women to skip it. After all, if the NHS does not consider it mandatory or necessary, it can not be so Which important, can it?

The NHS could change the way it invites you to cervical screenings - and that has been a long time ago


In a statement back in 2017, when we reported on this subject for the first time, the NHS said "Screening is an informed choice and it is the duty of the NHS Cervical Screening program to provide women with clear information that allows them to decide whether cervical screening is appropriate for them." But with the number of visitors to the cervical screening that continued to decline over the past two years, and an assessment of the letters that are now in the pipeline as part of the PHE's Cervical Screening Saves Lives & # 39; campaign, the health service may at last understand how much the messages are currently mixed. There are plenty of reasons – embarrassment aside – that women are not allowed to attend their cervical screening. It is common for survivors of sexual assault, for example to avoid the test, because the procedure and perceived invasion of their body can be an incredibly harrowing experience. In this case, from Class it is important for women to be aware that Pap smears are a choice and feel reassured that no one will force them to undergo what is likely to be a traumatic process. But to spend so much space in the cervical screening literature on memories that it is a "choice" undermines the real importance of the test from a health perspective.

The NHS could change the way it invites you to cervical screenings - and that has been a long time ago


Emily Hague, whose sister Sophie died of cervical cancer at the age of 25, told she felt shocked at the idea that some women would read their invitation letter and felt that a smear was an unnecessary procedure. "If it did not matter, if it did not save lives, what would it be like to have it?" She said. "Sure, that's your decision, there's a screening for that, so we have to go there, I just do not understand [the NHS is] "There is no confirmation of how the NHS letters can change with regard to cervical screening after the evaluation of the campaign, but with the statistics that clearly show that far too many women skip the tests, it is clear that something needs to change in the way we are informed about them.

Urine tests could replace smears in cervical screening

Getty Images

In addition to viewing the letters, PHE's Cervical Screening Saves Lives & # 39; campaign will also conduct various other strategies to encourage women to test smears. One of those, interestingly enough, seems to be the terminology & lubrication test & # 39; to be. Afterwards, the term & # 39; smear & # 39; outdated and people can be put off. It is hoped that renaming it & # 39; cervical screening & # 39; the life-saving test will & # 39; normalize & # 39 ;. and encourage more people to go. Other important changes that are made as part of the campaign include:

  • A series of television, radio and online advertisements
  • Try out a reminder service for text messages
  • The introduction of the HPV primary screening test, which hopefully will reduce cases of cervical cancer (you can read more about it here)
  • A redevelopment of the & # 39; easy read & # 39; booklet for cervical screening and development of an easy to read & # 39; invitation for women with learning disabilities
  • An assessment of the possibility of self-testing (you can read more about this)

    Strengthening the importance of cervical screenings, said Professor Anne Mackie, director of screening programs at PHE: "Two women die every day in England from cervical cancer, but it is one of the most common cancers if they are caught early. " We want a future generation free from cervical cancer, but we will only achieve our vision if women take their screening invitations. This is a simple test that costs only five minutes and can save your life. It is simply not worth it to ignore. "Exactly that not worth it to ignore your letters, because you could ignore your own health.Follow Cat on twitter.