We are launching a new drop-in cervical screening service at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH).
Starting from 7 January 2020, women will be able to drop in for their screening (smear test) on Tuesday evenings, 5.30pm-7.30pm, at Petter Day Treatment Unit in the Ladywell Unit, NDDH. Women will receive their results by letter from the screening service, usually in about two weeks.
Women aged 25-50 are sent their screening invitation every three years, and every five years for women aged 50-64. When they get their invitation, women can now choose to book an appointment with their GP or attend the drop-in at NDDH.
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme is an important service that helps prevent cancer in women aged 24-64. The programme has made a significant impact on cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year.
“There is no need to book an appointment – just pop in on a Tuesday evening”
Dawn Goffey, nurse consultant in colposcopy, helped to set up the new drop-in service at NDDH. She is urging women to come along if they are due for their screening.
Dawn said: “We have set up this drop-in service to give women more flexibility and easy access to get this important test done. There is no need to book an appointment – just pop in on a Tuesday evening if that’s the easiest way for you to fit cervical screening into your schedule.
“We hope this new service will see more women take up screening and reduce the number of women developing cervical cancer by detecting signs of change before cancer develops.”
1 in 4 women in the UK miss their screening
Despite the importance of cervical screening, some women are not attending when invited. In March 2019, Public Health England revealed that uptake was at a 20-year low. 1 in 4 eligible women in the UK were not attending their screening.
Reasons for this can include difficulties with fitting an appointment into busy schedules, embarrassment about the examination and not knowing where to get the test.
Louise Errol, Petter Day Unit manager, added: “I’d really like to reassure anyone who is worried about screening that we are experts in women’s health and we’ve seen it all before. So please don’t feel embarrassed when you come to see us – we certainly won’t be. Feedback from our patients is really positive and we often hear that we are professional, kind and caring.
“Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer. It detects pre-cancerous changes so that those changes can be treated before they become a cancer. If you had a chance to prevent yourself from developing cancer, wouldn’t you take it?”
For more information about the NHS Cervical Screening Programme visit www.nhs.uk/cervical-screening.