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NHS Tayside Colposcopy Service based in Ninewells Hospital in Dundee has won a national award for their work to increase the number of women attending potentially life-saving cervical screening (smear tests). Their initiative has been awarded the top prize by charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust in their annual Cervical Screening Awards which recognise excellence and innovation across the UK.
Also in Scotland, a Highly Commended award was given to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Cancer Research UK Facilitator Programme. A second Highly Commended was awarded to Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland Councils, for their ‘Screening Saves Lives’ campaign.
Cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease with cervical screening providing the best protection against the disease, however one in four women do not attend the test when invited and attendance is falling across the UK. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust created the Cervical Screening Awards in 2010 to acknowledge organisations working to increase awareness and attendance in their areas and is announcing the winners following Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which ran from 22-28 January.
In their application, NHS Tayside stated their health board has “the highest incidence of cervical cancers within Scotland” and attendance of cervical screening is at 74.7%, meaning over one in four women are not taking up their invitation. As part of their winning campaign, NHS Tayside organised daily awareness stalls and “drop in” smear sessions in hospitals, had awareness stalls around local shopping centres, shared posters and posts across their social media platforms and had a cervical cancer survivor speak to the local media about the importance of cervical screening. The initiative enabled NHS Tayside to secure a year’s worth of funding from Scottish government to run ‘pop up’ evening clinics which saw more than 150 women screened and incentivised more to attend at their GP. They targeted areas in the Health Board where cervical cancer incidence is higher and were able to engage with more hard-to-reach groups of women to increased awareness and attendance of screening.
Dr Ragupathy, Dr McMullen and Elaine Coupar, Senior Charge Nurse/Colposcopist from Ninewells Hospital, said: “Our colposcopy team in NHS Tayside used Jo’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week to launch our social marketing campaign to increase uptake of cervical screening, particularly in younger women. We publicised this using our own digitally designed posters. Throughout the week this was advertised on social media, supported by interviews and articles across local radio stations and newspapers as well as having a stall at all five NHS Tayside hospitals throughout the week. We also took over 50 smears from women who were overdue a smear test and collected formal feedback from over 250 women who felt that lack of time, embarrassment and difficulty or discomfort with examinations were the main barriers to having smear tests. More importantly many women have been able to discuss issues about cervical screening on a one to one basis. Women felt we should focus on social media awareness with drop in clinics particularly out of hours.
“This recognition by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust of NHS Tayside’s Colposcopy Team and friends efforts is a tremendous honour. Looking at the list of Jo’s Cervical Screening Award past recipients and their inspirational projects brings home the significance of this accolade. We are more committed than ever to promoting cervical screening awareness and providing this valuable service for the people of NHS Tayside.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were commended for a range of initiatives including an event to share best practice and learnings around increasing uptake for health professionals and a drop-in clinic which was so successful, thanks to text reminders prior to the week, that it was repeated two weeks later. Cervical screening was further chosen as a quality improvement topic across six GP practices working in partnership with the community and supporting organisations such as the Facilitator Programme and Jo’s, the campaign was adopted to meet the needs of other surgeries and has been shared with practices across the West of Scotland.
Lisa Cohen, Cancer Research UK’s West of Scotland Facilitator Manager, said: “The Cancer Research UK Health Professional Facilitator Programme is both thrilled and grateful to receive this award. The work that our facilitators in the West of Scotland carry out with hundreds of GPs, primary care teams and healthcare planners is instrumental in highlighting the importance of early detection of cancer and driving improvements in outcomes for the disease. We look forward to continuing to work directly with the NHS and charities like Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to beat cancer sooner.”
Middlesbrough’s ‘Screening Saves Lives’ campaign was a town wide campaign to increase community awareness and engage GPs which employed a wide range of activities. Bespoke materials were distributed across places with high footfall of residents, including hospitals, GP surgeries and hair salons. Text reminders were sent to women and online booking was made available to ease the process. To increase accessibility, several GP surgeries offered additional appointments during the evening and on weekends and James Cook University Hospital, one of the largest employers in the area with many women working shifts, opened an onsite screening service which was so successful that it is now being rolled out to another hospital.
Edward Kunonga, Director of Public Health Middlesbrough Council, said: “Improving cervical screening has been a big priority for us over the last couple of years recognising that 1 in 3 women locally are missing out and putting themselves at risk. We have spent time looking at the key reasons why these women don’t attend for regular routine screening to help us target our response to address these issues. We are really pleased to receive this recognition from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust which is an acknowledgement of the work we have done across Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland. We continue to explore other ways to improving access to screening for all women.”
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "I would like to personally congratulate NHS Tayside Colposcopy Service and both Highly Commended winners for their excellent work and I hope that their work encourages others to invest in prevention campaigns. These initiatives provide excellent examples of what can be done locally to increase falling screening uptake. Cervical screening provides the best protection against cervical cancer and it is only through local concerted action such as those demonstrated by our winners that we are going to see attendance increase. It is vital that we share and learn about successful local efforts to encourage good practice to be carried out across the UK."
For information about the Cervical Screening Awards visit www.jostrust.org.uk/get-involved/cervical-screening-awards
For more information or media enquiries contact [email protected] or call 020 30968100.
Notes to editors
The judging panel for the Cervical Screening Awards consisted of: Tim Elliott, Senior Policy Adviser, Cancer Acute Care and Provider Department of Health; Ruth Stubbs, National cervical screening programme manager, Public Health England; Tracy Curtis, Programme Manager, National Specialist and Screening Services Directorate, NHS Scotland; Louise Dunk, Head of Programme, Cervical Screening Wales; Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) 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.