Health screening in County Durham

Our report looks into the experiences of vulnerable women and the uptake of health screening in County Durham

As part of the ongoing work researching the barriers to health screening programmes, Healthwatch County Durham completed a short project into the experiences of vulnerable women or women with additional responsibilities in the County, in relation to the uptake of gender specific health screening and accessing health care in the county. As a result of our partnership with the Safeguarding Adults Board we also consulted on how aware these women were of the Safeguarding process. 

What women told us:

  • They did attend health screening where possible, even though their lives were sometimes chaotic, they did want to try and have these checks
  •  Most women felt that the age limits for screening should be extended
  •  It was easier for the cervical screening to be forgotten or delayed, primarily because you are not sent an appointment, unlike breast screening
  • Most were happy about accessing their GP, although there were some specific problems for domestic abuse victims, placed in refuges out of area, as they could need to be registered quickly to get medication and struggled with ID. Not all doctors’ surgeries were flexible enough to manage this effectively.
  •  A number of women told us they had problems accessing Mental Health services, this was for a range of issues including, the withdrawal of services, waiting times and accessing the right support 
  • There were mixed views about the urgent care services. Some women told us they had preferred the old system where you could just attend and wait to be seen, but others said they thought the 111 service, where you get an appointment to attend was much

It took 5 attempts to have my cervical smear as my practice could not manage my disability needs


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