Background and Challenge
Like all practices, the Basildon Road Surgery team in South East London was concerned at the decline in patients’ attendance at cervical screening appointments. In recent years, only 76% of eligible women took-up the offer of a cervical screening appointment, falling below the NHS target of 80%.
Every individual matters and Basildon Road Surgery wanted to increase the take-up of cervical screening at its practice to achieve the NHS target of 80%. The challenge was how could this target be achieved, and lives saved without significantly increasing the practice’s workload?
The Basildon Road Surgery team quickly signed up to a initiative implemented by a steering group comprising NHS England/NHS Improvement, Public Health England, Cancer Alliances, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Cancer Research UK, Primary Care Support England, The Healthy London Partnership, Academic Institutions, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Authorities to send GP endorsed text reminders across the region to complement the traditional letter inviting individuals for screening.
The commissioning parties involved iPLATO because of the organisation’s proven ability to manage large scale multi-channel messages to a targeted audience. Rather than the Basildon Road Surgery team only sending individuals a letter, iPLATO’s text reminders would aim to address the issue of not booking or falling to attend the appointment.
“As well as a standard letter, using pink paper to capture the individual’s attention, we believe iPLATO’s text reminder to women has very quickly produced results. I call it the “double whammy approach”. Indeed, within 6 months of starting the project, we were achieving an 80% up-take rate for tests. We have not achieved this level in 5 years and it now means the practice is hitting the NHS 80% target. Our practice workload has not increased, time has also been saved as the updates from texts automatically code into our clinical system. We are now keen to partner with iPLATO and duplicate the positive results in our breast screening programme.” Pauline Clelland, Practice Manager, Basildon Road Surgery