St Albans resident speaks out after struggle to access “lifesaving” cervical cancer screening test

PUBLISHED: 11:01 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:08 05 October 2020

All people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are invited by letter for a screening by the NHS every three to five years, depending on their age. Picture: Google Street View

All people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are invited by letter for a screening by the NHS every three to five years, depending on their age. Picture: Google Street View

Archant

A St Albans woman, who does not want to be named, spoke of her deflation after trying to book a smear test at The Maltings Surgery, only to be told there were no appointments available.

Expressing her dismay, she said: “I think it’s the sort of thing that people don’t really want to do, although they know they should, so this [not getting an appointment] is going to be another barrier to people accessing this test.

“It’s a lifesaving test.”

All people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are invited by letter for a screening by the NHS every three to five years, depending on their age.

The St Albans resident aired her concerns after being told to ring back a week later, following an initial week-long struggle to get through on the phone lines,

She said: “I thought ‘This is what happens, people then leave it another couple of weeks and then suddenly they’ve forgotten’.

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“Smear tests have already got quite a low take-up rate, and I feel this is another barrier.’”

Although cases of cervical cancer are rare in young people, she worries that “young women who have got very busy lives who don’t think they’re at risk will just not bother” to go for a screening.

Cervical cancer screenings took a brief recess in the height of the pandemic, but the St Albans resident warned that coronavirus “shouldn’t be an obstacle getting in the way of women getting a smear test”.

Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group said in response: “Cervical screening appointments have continued to be a high priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic at The Maltings Surgery.

“The surgery has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for all essential services, with appropriate screening and precautions in place.”

With no waiting list currently at The Maltings, screening appointments are available and can be offered within three weeks.

In a gov.co.uk report published in September 2020, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) provides NHS cervical screening services to an eligible population of approximately 171,000 people, covered by the Herts Valley CCG.

If you’re worried about symptoms of cervical cancer, contact your GP or visit the NHS website for advice.


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