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 has 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. This work is based on the successful extended access pilot services we supported previously via GP Federations. These projects help ensure that people have 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.
- 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 of suitably qualified staff to train as sample takers, as well as screening mentors and assessors. This will ensure that there are an adequate number of qualified sample takers across west London to meet the population needs.
- Exploring extending screening for trans men and non-binary people to at least one GP practice in north west London and one in south west London. This is based on the success and learning from our No Barriers project, which provided dedicated cervical screening sensitive to the needs of trans men and non-binary people at a central London clinic. Extending the delivery of specialist screening ensures that people have choice about where to access their screen, for instance at a central London venue or somewhere closer to home.
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For more information on cervical screening: www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/