Improving participation in cervical screening
The national cervical screening programme is a significant strategy in the early detection of human papilloma virus (HPV), of which some types are linked to the development of cervical cancer. In London, nearly a third of those eligible between the ages of 25-49 who are invited every three years do not participate when invited.
Nationally the number of younger women who attend screening is decreasing. For women between the ages of 50 and 64 years, invitations are issued every 5 years and while there are higher rates of participation in the older age group, west London does not consistently reach the national target of 80%.
If everyone eligible for cervical screening attended, 83% of cervical cancers could be avoided. To address this, RM Partners developed a number of initiatives to help improve access to cervical screening, including:
- Funding extended hours access to cervical screening via GP Federations and Primary Care Networks (PCNs) across west London. These projects helped ensure that people had a choice about where and when to attend their screening, for instance early mornings, evenings, or weekends. Each borough also produced a local video promoting the out of hours access to screening – some boroughs translated the video in different languages for their local populations. From October 2022, cervical screening during extended hours is being delivered by Primary Care Networks (PCNs) as part of changes to the Extended Hours DES.
- Delivery of training for non-clinical practice staff, including social prescribing/link workers, on best practice messages for call/recall of cervical screening patients. This will ensure that patients understand the importance of attending for their cervical screen and allay any concerns they might have about the process.
- Supporting the identification and funding of suitably qualified staff to train as sample takers, as well as screening mentors and assessors, thus trying to ensure that there is adequate workforce to meet the population needs.
- Providing cervical screening for trans men and non-binary people. The No Barriers project originally piloted dedicated cervical screening sensitive to the needs of trans men and non-binary people at the Dean Street Clinic in central London. The service is now part of the clinic’s core offer.
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