Health provider concerned at 'all-time low' levels of cervical screenings

Jasmine Carter. 27, pictured with fiancé Grant Salisbury, are due to get married in October this year. 

Jasmine Salisbury, pictured with her husband Grant - Credit: Jasmine Carter

A healthcare provider is urging people to come forward to be screened for cervical cancer after figures revealed a quarter are skipping appointments. 

Health specialist nurses from Suffolk GP Federation have been visiting schools, universities, supermarkets and toddlers' groups to raise awareness of the importance of screening following concerns about a low take-up of checks. 

Lucy Ainsley, cervical screening project co-ordinator with the federation, which representatives surgeries across the county, said: “Rates of uptake are at an all-time low at the moment and some of that is impacted by COVID. Our staff are visiting schools and doing some education work to try and increase uptake.” 

She believed recipients of Human Papillomavirus Vaccines (HPV) did not feel they needed screening as the vaccine protected them against cervical cancer, but said they should still be checked. 

Figures for the east of England show that one in four people are skipping their screening, which can save 5,000 lives a year. 

In Suffolk, 188,862 patients are eligible for cervical screening. 

Nationally, statistics from Public Health England suggest that if all eligible patients attended screening appointments regularly, 83 per cent of cervical cancer deaths could be prevented. 

Earlier this month, Jasmine Salisbury, 28, from Hadleigh, spoke to the EADT about the importance of getting screened following her own cervical cancer diagnosis. 

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The former support worker was reluctant to see a doctor because she did not want to be examined while bleeding; a decision she said she regretted. 

Fortunately, the cancer was still at a treatable stage when she was diagnosed in February 2019 and she was given the all-clear in April 2020 after months of intensive treatment.   

She said: “It’s really worrying to hear that the cervical screening uptake has fallen. From speaking to others, I know that some have not attended their appointment due to concerns about COVID and others are too embarrassed or nervous. 

“I cannot stress the importance of having a screening enough, it will check for abnormal cells which, if found early enough, can be easily treated.” 

For more information about cervical cancer screening and symptoms of cervical cancer, visit www.jotrust.org.uk or www.macmillan.org.uk.