In 2016 it was reported by Public Health England that over the last 3 years in County Durham, 76.4% of eligible women invited to take part, had attended for screening. Whilst this figure is above the regional average there is still an opportunity to increase uptake. Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2018 took place at the end of January and Healthwatch County Durham took the opportunity to research the uptake of cancer screening in the County to see why some eligible people were not taking part in the screening programme and if there was anything that could be done to encourage more people to participate.
Recommendations and Observations:
- Nursing staff need to be mindful about the way in which they interact or talk to patients. Unintentional actions or comments can have an impact on women and can make them reluctant to have the procedure repeated
- There needs to be continued efforts to reinforce the importance of attending screening, including information about the HPV vaccination and how it ties in with the screening programme. Having read the leaflet that is sent out with the invitation letter we do not feel it gives enough clarity about the importance of still attending if you have been vaccinated
- 15 women told us in our survey that they believe the screening programme should start at an earlier age
- We also picked up that women do not always feel they get timely information about the screening, when they will be invited to attend and what to expect
- In Northumberland follow-up letters are sent out on pink paper, which seems to be having a positive impact in increasing uptake
- Of the women who had not accepted the invitation to be screened 25 women told us they were too frightened or embarrassed to attend