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Released this morning, the latest statistics show attendance of cervical screening in England is the lowest for two decades. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust warns that more mothers, daughters, sisters and friends will be lost to cervical cancer if this does not change.
Coverage has fallen from 72.7% to 72% in the last year with over 1.2 million women not taking up their invitation. It is now the lowest it has been for 20 years having fallen across every age group and almost every local authority in England.
Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “I am extremely disappointed to see these statistics, however sadly I am not surprised. The Jade Goody effect has long gone. We have spoken out time and time again about the need for investment and action to improve cervical screening attendance, however this is simply not happening. The Cancer Strategy for England emphasises prevention so it is incredibly frustrating to see lack of activity to increase participation in a programme that can prevent diagnoses of cervical cancer.”
Robert continues “We should be proud of our cervical screening programme, it saves thousands of lives every year and further developments such as the introduction of HPV primary screening are only going to make it better. However with increasing numbers not attending fewer will benefit from these improvements. As a charity we are working our hardest but we can’t do it alone. There are some examples of amazing work happening across the country to improve uptake and we need to see this amplified, locally and nationally or lives will be lost. We are leading busier, more mobile lives therefore these statistics must surely serve as a call to action to make the screening programme more accessible, again, something we have been saying for years.”
The charity is calling for the government to fund a national awareness campaign alongside increased investment to facilitate innovation and activity at a local level. A lack of funding is hindering the progress of changes which will increase accessibility for women including the ability to attend screening at GPs other than the one they are registered with, such as close to work, at more sexual health services and to be able to self sample.
In a report released in January 2017, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found almost half (44%) of local authorities and almost two thirds (60%) of CCGs had not undertaken any activities to increase screening attendance in the last two years with many stating it is not their responsibility.
For more information please contact [email protected] or call 020 3096 8100 (out of office hours 07772 290064)
Notes to editors
About Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information to women of all ages and their loved ones affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The national Helpline is on 0808 802 8000.
About cervical cancer
About HPV (Human Papillomavirus)