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St Mary’s Surgery, based near the Royal South Hants Hospital in Southampton, has won a national award for their work to increase the number of women attending potentially life-saving cervical screening (smear tests). The IN THE PINK! Campaign 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.
Cervical screening can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers from developing however 1 in 4 women do not attend the test when invited, significantly increasing their risk of developing a disease which claims two lives every day. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, the only UK charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer, created the awards in 2010 to acknowledge organisations working to reverse this trend and inspire others.
In order to raise awareness of cervical screening and encourage patients to attend, St Mary’s surgery delivered an innovative, multi faceted campaign running over a four week period; the judges said it "demonstrated understanding and investigation of the problem", delivered “excellent outcomes and plans going ahead” and commented that it is "great to see a full team effort and taking action by increasing service provision in light of feedback from patients".
Many patients at St Mary’s surgery speak English as a second language and a large percentage live in the most deprived areas in the city presenting potential barriers to women taking up their screening invitation. As part of their four week campaign, the surgery sent weekly reminders to women who were overdue their cervical screening, individually called patients to explain the importance of the test and broadcast interviews in a variety of languages on a local community radio station. By increasing the availability of appointments both in hours and outside normal working hours they were able to offer a greater range of opportunistic tests. The very visual IN THE PINK campaign helped maintain the focus of the initiative. Their work provided much needed opportunities for women in the area to find out why cervical screening is so important, how it can reduce their risk of cervical cancer and most importantly encourage them to attend when invited.
Dr Ingela Carrington, GP Partner at St Mary’s Surgery, said: "St Marys Surgery is delighted to have won this award for our Cervical Screening campaign and we are very pleased with the results we have achieved so far in increasing Cervical Screening uptake in our female patients who are due a smear test. During the campaign we saw a 7.9% increase in uptake. This has now increased to over 11% increase since the start of the campaign.
"60% of our practice population live in the most deprived areas of the city. At the end of the campaign the greatest gains were achieved within the more deprived areas.
"The enthusiasm of the whole practice team in tackling the range of work undertaken was key to its success. Work continues to address the issues faced in this local demographic to improve uptake and to engage patients including targeted events in the local community. We are determined to continue to raise awareness and support Jos Trust to improve Cervical Screening uptake ".
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "St Mary’s is a very worthy winner of our Cervical Screening Awards. Their application positively stood out among the applications we received and provides an excellent example of a targeted campaign to overcome some of the barriers to screening faced in their community. Cervical screening uptake is worryingly at a 19 year low in England and local initiatives are vital to reversing this trend. If we don’t then we are only going to see more women diagnosed and potentially losing their lives, from what is a largely preventable disease. I would like to personally congratulate St Mary’s and hope that their work encourages others to invest in prevention campaigns."
Dr Sue Robinson, Clinical Chair for Southampton Clinical Commissioning Group praised the surgery for their award; "we are delighted and extremely proud to have a GP Surgery within our city recognised with this award. The whole team worked hard to achieve this and are a shining example that campaigns such as this one, do work and can make a real difference to the health of people of Southampton."
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 7250 8311.
Notes to editors
The judging panel for the Cervical Screening Awards was: 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 Pickford, All Wales Co-ordinator, 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.
About cervical cancer
About cervical screening
 NHS Digital, Cervical Screening Programme England 2015-2016; http://www.content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB22414