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“We’re made to feel invisible” Barriers to accessing cervical screening for women with physical disabilities

Our new research has found that women with physical disabilities are struggling to access potentially-life saving cervical screening.

A lack of equipment, clear policies and, in parts of the country, substandard care is putting this group at increased risk of cervical cancer.

Key findings

  • 88% said it is harder for women with physical disabilities to attend or access cervical screening
  • 63% said that they have been unable to attend cervical screening because of their disability
  • 49% said that they have chosen not to attend cervical screening in the past for reasons such as previous bad experiences related to their disability or worries about how people might react.

Cervical screening for women with physical disabilitiesRecommendations

All women should have equality of access to cervical screening and we hope the following recommendations will get us closer to making this a reality for women with physical disabilities:

  1. National support to address inequity in access
  2. Each GP practice to review their policies and practice and ensure pathways or adjustments are in place to ensure every woman can access cervical screening
  3. Care Quality Commission and health inspectorates to regulate access in general practice
  4. Research looking at the most effective way of offering cervical screening to women with a physical disability, including feasibility of HPV self-sampling
  5. Sample taker training, and refresher training, to include potential needs and adjustments that should be considered for women with a physical disability.

Download the full report >

How to get involved

Share the report

Talk about your personal experience and share our report on social media to help raise awareness of the problems women with a physical disability can have accessing cervical screening. Sharing the report is simple! Use the buttons below to post, or use our suggested post:

Every eligible woman should be able to access #CervicalScreening, yet Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust found 2/3 women with a physical disability are unable to. We can change this. Read their experiences: jostrust.org.uk/invisible

Contact your MP

Write to your MP to let them know about our new report and what needs to change. You can use this draft letter as guidance >

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We rely on generous donations to keep our support services running and be there for everyone who needs support.

"I felt like my needs had been forgotten and that I simply fell under the radar."

- Kerry

"To access the test, I need a hoist to be available in order to transfer onto the examination table"

- Fi

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