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Giving local people a voice on health and social care services in County Durham

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Cervical screening - your feedback


Earlier this year we asked women in County Durham to share their experiences of cervical screening (smear tests) with us. Our aim was to identify ways the screening programme could be improved to encourage more women to take part, as currently around one in four women don’t attend when invited. Around 900 women completed our survey and we have now published our recommendations based on their views.

Common reasons women gave for not attending screening included:

  • fear and anxiety
  • not being able to get a convenient appointment time
  • forgetting or delaying making an appointment
  • finding previous cervical screening painful

In particular we noticed the system of sending letters requesting women make their own appointment did not always work, as many women told us it was easy to forget or delay doing so. We will therefore be recommending to commissioners and service providers that they look again at this procedure and consider alternative appointment systems, e.g. using an online booking system or sending follow-up emails or texts to remind women to book.

We are also recommending that information given to women is clearer regarding the need to attend screening  even when they have had the HPV vaccination as currently the leaflet provided is not completely clear about this. You can read our findings and recommendations in full in the report and we’ll let you know when we have a response from commissioners.

Thank you to everyone who shared their views!

Cervical screening report


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Next event

Healthwatch County Durham Board Meeting will take place on 08 Oct 2019