Revealed: The GP surgeries where THREE-QUARTERS of woman miss their cervical cancer tests as health chiefs blame fear and embarrassment
- Just 13.8 per cent of patients been tested in past three years at one London clinic
- Decline blamed on women being embarrassed and scared about the procedure
- Cervical cancer screening offered every three years to women aged 25 to 49
Three-quarters of women at some GP surgeries have missed vital checks for cervical cancer, figures reveal.
At one north-west London practice, just 13.8 per cent of patients aged 25 to 49 have been tested in the past three years.
And surgeries in Newcastle, Bournemouth and across central, south and west London have uptake rates of about 25 per cent.
At one north-west London practice, just 13.8 per cent of patients aged 25 to 49 have been tested in the past three years (file photo)
Nationally, just 71 per cent of patients have had the latest test they were due for, down from 82 per cent in 1997.
The decline has been blamed on women being embarrassed and scared about the procedure as well as a lack of available appointments.
There are also concerns funding cuts have led to fewer reminder letters.
Health officials are so worried about the fall they are launching a cervical cancer awareness campaign in March. The NHS screening programme saves an estimated 5,000 lives a year.
Screening is offered every three years to women aged 25 to 49 and then every five years up to age 65.
But uptake is particularly low in the first group and just 69 per cent have had their latest test. At 223 GP surgeries across England, fewer than half of women aged 25 to 49 have had their test.
At the other end of the scale, 92.4 per cent have been tested at one surgery in Carlisle, Cumbria, and 90.7 per cent at a practice in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.
Screening is offered every three years to women aged 25 to 49 and then every five years up to age 65 (file photo)
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: ‘While national action to increase attendance is essential, local activity is also necessary with community outreach and working with underperforming GPs just some of the ways regional variation can be addressed.’
Cervical cancer is the most common form of the disease in women under 35. There are 3,000 new cases a year in the UK and 1,000 deaths. However, a report last week found there was a backlog of 100,000 women who had not yet been given their test results.
An NHS England spokesman said: ‘Last year, Public Health England launched their Screening Inequalities strategy which aims to describe actions that services can do to drive uptake in groups who are underrepresented.
‘They will also run a national campaign this year to encourage more women to attend cervical screening.’
HPV jab ‘safe, effective protection’
The HPV vaccine is safe, effective and critical for eliminating cervical cancer, UN experts have found.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer says protection is long-lasting and cost-effective for national health services.
But it says anti-vaccination myths spread on social media have seen uptake fall in some countries, putting hundreds of thousands at risk.
It warns deaths from cervical cancer are projected to rise by 50 per cent by 2040 unless preventative action is taken.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) jab, which protects against the virus behind most cases of cervical cancer, is routinely offered to girls aged 12 to 13 in the UK. Boys will also be given the jab from this year to reduce risk of cancers including mouth and throat.
A target for immunising 80 per cent of girls is being met.
But in 2017-18, 57,048 girls did not get the two doses needed for the jab to be effective.