Every day women across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are making lists of things to do and the NHS is asking them to add one life-saving task to their list.
All women aged 20 – 60 across Scotland are invited to have a free, quick, cervical screening test every three years yet some never take up their appointment. Now the NHS in Scotland is issuing new leaflets in response to research into women’s current attitudes to screening to explain what’s involved and address reasons why women may not be coming forward.
Carol Colquhoun, National Screening Programme Co-ordinator said:
“We want to encourage as many women as possible to go for their cervical screening test by putting it on their list of things to do.
“We’ve listened to what women told us and have introduced new leaflets that provide women with the answers and reassurance they are looking for.
“Every year in Scotland more than 300,000 women are invited for screening and a quarter of them do not take up the invitation. I would urge all women invited for cervical screening to put it on their list. Ignoring the invitation leaves women unprotected from the early signs of cervical cancer.
“Cervical screening saves lives so put it on your list.”
There are four leaflets:
• The Cervical Screening Test: Put it on your list - sent with the screening invitation
• The Cervical Screening Test: Your First Test - for those being invited for the first time
• The Cervical Screening Test: Information for Lesbian and Bisexual Women - to address specific questions considered by lesbian and bisexual women
• The Cervical Screening Test: Your Results Explained - sent with screening results and designed to explain test results and what to expect as follow up.
The Cervical Screening Test: Put it on your list leaflets will be sent to women eligible for screening, along with their invitation and will be available in healthcare and community settings, and on-line at www.healthscotland.com/screening.aspx
Public Health Minister Shona Robison said:
"Cervical screening helps save lives, it's as simple as that.
"The more information women have about why screening is important and how it helps save lives the better.
"That's why these new leaflets are so important. They explain to women simply, clearly and sensitively what to expect. I hope women find them informing and reassuring."
Posters are also being made available for use in healthcare and community settings including GP surgeries, pharmacies, sexual health services, health promotion libraries, higher and further education establishments, and voluntary sector agencies, to encourage women to pick up the new leaflets and find out more about the test.
Dr Emilia Crighton, Consultant in Public NHSGGC, said:
“Women in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will be receiving the new leaflets when they are invited for their test or they can pick one up when they are in their local GP practice or lots of other places.
“The information provided in the leaflets is very clear and helpful and I encourage women to read these and, if need be, speak to a nurse or GP or call the NHS 24 Helpline if they have further questions. I have no doubt that these new leaflets will help women here to be more confident when going for their cervical screening test.”
Robert Music, Director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:
“I very much welcome these new materials. Cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease, however we are concerned at the numbers of women who are not taking up the potentially life saving opportunity to attend cervical screening. We saw a surge in women going for screening after Jade Goody died but sadly it looks as if the numbers are coming down dramatically, perhaps almost to levels before Jade was diagnosed.
“These new materials are well written and well targeted and I hope they will encourage more women to take proactive steps to reducing their risk of cervical cancer by accepting their invitation for cervical screening.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Cervical screening has proven to be an effective method of reducing the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer. Screening provides a test for early identification of changes in cells in the cervix (neck of the womb) so that they can be simply and effectively treated. The screening test saves around 5000 lives in the UK every year and has prevented 8 out of 10 cervical cancers from developing.
2. In Scotland, all women aged 20 – 60 are eligible for cervical screening. Women of any age who have concerns at any time should speak to their GP or practice nurse.
3. In Scotland in 2008, a national immunisation programme to protect against the most common cause of cervical cancer, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), was introduced for all girls in the S2 year of school, and for 2008-2011 for older girls born on or after 1 September 1990.
4. Attitudes leading to low uptake of cervical screening in Scotland - Final Report can be accessed at: http://www.healthscotland.com/documents/3599.aspx
5. Translations of the new leaflets are available to download in Chinese, Polish, and Urdu from http://www.healthscotland.com/screening.aspx Furthermore, NHS Health Scotland will consider requests for other languages or formats.
6. Two leaflets designed specifically for women with learning disabilities - Keep yourself Healthy: Do I need a Smear Test? and Keep yourself healthy: A guide to having a smear test - produced in partnership with FAIR are also available from local health promotion resource libraries or [email protected]
For more information contact either NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]