This week I pressed health officials about what more they could be doing to improve the NHS’s Cervical Screening Programme, as part of a Public Accounts Committee inquiry on this issue.
The programme, which sees all women aged 25 to 64 invited for a screening test, saves an estimated 5,000 lives every year through the prevention of cervical cancer. However, attendance is falling every year and screening is at a 20-year low. In Sunderland, nearly 1 in 4 eligible women didn’t attend their test in 2017-18.
While Public Health England has recently launched a welcome campaign to encourage take-up, more could be done to reverse the worrying downward trend.
There are various reasons why women don’t attend their screenings, and I raised specific concerns about the convenience and availability of screening appointments, as well as awareness of the programme and its importance.