We have worked with the NHS, Public Health England and a number of charitable trusts to promote the NHS disease prevention agenda, not just across cancer screening but across other screening and vaccination programmes to encourage every man, woman and child eligible to book and attend a screening or vaccination appointment.
Currently 870 women die a year from cervical cancer, however 83% of cervical cancer deaths could be avoided if all eligible women participated in cervical screening, meaning up to 722 lives could be saved a year with optimal screening uptake.
Attendance at cervical screening appointments is in decline. Over the past twenty years the number of women attending their appointments has decreased year on year – despite increased education and awareness. Currently only 1 in 3 women aged 25-29 attend their screening appointment, and this can fall to as low as 1 in 2 in deprived areas. Meaning that of the UK women eligible for cervical screening, almost 3.7 million are putting themselves at risk of life-threatening cervical cancer by not attended cervical screening within the last five years.
London has the lowest number of women attending their screening appointments in the country with only 65% of women invited for screening taking up the appointment.
Traditionally women are invited to book their screening appointment via letter sent to their home address and a new scheme rolled-out across London by Public Health England, NHS England/NHS Improvement alongside Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and technology provider iPLATO healthcare, supplemented this with a GP endorsed SMS reminder sent to patients.
The SMS reminder service from the company behind myGP. iPLATO, has yielded fantastic results, over a 18 week period last year 13000 more women were screened – and he SMS reminder service has been highly praised by The Government and has been recommended for both screening and vaccinations – leading the way in cost effective technologies to assist the aid prevention agenda.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust undertook a range of research projects to understand the barriers in place preventing women from attending their screening. Awareness of cervical screening is lowest in the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds, with differing levels of understanding and recognition of the term ‘cervical screening’ or ‘smear test’, a third more BAME woman than white woman said they have never attended screening with 30% of Asian women claimed they did not know what cervical screening is.
There is a worrying downward trend in women aged over 50 attending their screening appointment with 31% not considering it necessary, even though this is the age group most likely to be diagnosed with advance stage cervical cancer, with 49% of diagnosis being at stage two or later.
While there is still a huge education piece that needs to be done on the importance of cervical screening implementing this small change and introducing GP endorsed SMS reminders could save lives.
The NHS provides a number of disease prevention programmes across the board, including screenings programmes and vaccinations, a full list of screening available to patients on the NHS is available here.
If you’re not sure if you are due a screening or vaccination, you can view your medical record in the myGP app or contact your surgery to find if you are up to date with your screening or vaccination programmes.
We are committed to continue to simplify access to healthcare.