Cervical screening saves lives – don’t skip your smear test!

Cervical screening (smear tests) are now resuming in Sefton after being paused due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This news coincides with Cervical Screening Awareness Week (15 – 21 June 2020) and health leaders in Sefton are encouraging residents to take up the offer of getting screened when invited.

Five million women are invited for cervical cancer screening each year in the UK. However, many do not attend. This is a free health test that checks for cell changes caused by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). The best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer is by attending cervical screening when invited. Residents who are registered at a local GP practice will receive a screening invitation letter in the post with information about how to book their appointment.

The 7 Day GP Service in Southport and Formby and the GP Extra service in south Sefton are open and are providing additional appointments on weekday evenings and at the weekend for residents. All patients registered with a Sefton GP can book appointments with these services via their GP practice.

Dr Abdul Zubairu, medical director at the 7 Day GP Service said: “During the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, invitations for screening appointments were paused but invitations are now being sent out again. If you receive an appointment invite in the post, it is vitally important that you attend as long as you and no-one in your household are suffering from coronavirus symptoms.

“NHS teams have been working together to ensure that cervical cancer screening can safely restart during the coronavirus pandemic and the re-opening of the 7 Day GP Service in Southport and Formby will enable patients to more easily access appointments.”

Jane Lunt, Interim Chief Nurse for NHS South Sefton and Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “Smear tests detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancerous. These tests are one of the most important things that women can do to protect themselves from the risk of cervical cancer. Some women are nervous or embarrassed about the test and put off having it done. While it is not the most enjoyable experience it only takes five minutes and it could save your life!

“Smear tests are normally done in a GP surgery; you can specifically ask for a female professional if you would prefer.”

Dr Gustavo Berni from the GP Extra Service said: “This year we see an increased challenge for cervical screening. Due to coronavirus our services have put increased infection control measures in place to ensure screening appointments continue. This includes the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the safety of patients and staff.

“Spotting and treating signs of cervical cancer at an early stage is key to successful treatment, so having a smear test is not only very important, it saves lives. If anyone has any concerns or questions about cervical screening please do not hesitate to speak to your GP practice or sexual health clinic.”

The 7 Day GP Service in Southport and Formby and the GP Extra service in south Sefton increase Sefton residents’ options for booking non-urgent, routine GP and other healthcare professional appointments weekday evenings and at the weekend. Patients can book-in with the services by contacting their registered GP practice.

For more information about cervical cancer and what the screening test involves, visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalcancer  

Women can find out more about what to expect at their cervical screening appointment by watching this video 

For more information about the GP Extra service in South Sefton visit the website.

For more information about the 7 Day GP Service in Southport and Formby visit the website.

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