Lancashire has one of the lowest uptakes in cervical smears in the North West following figures released by the NHS, with the national target of 80% being missed by almost 10%.
The number of women booking appointments has dropped since the start of 2020/21 across Lancashire as a whole. Blackburn with Darwen has the lowest uptake in the region, with only 65% attending.
Preston based nurse, Wendy Parkinson, carries out regular cervical smears and says there are a variety of reasons women turn down smear tests with “body confidence and scare stories” being just two.
Now with the possible introduction of home testing kits, Nurse Parkinson sees it as nothing but a positive.
“If it has been rigorously tested, then overall it is positive as it would help get women who don’t want to attend the practice for their own reasons to be tested from home,” she said.
The introduction of home cervical screening could also save the NHS £10 million a year, as cancers could be detected at earlier stages.
At current the home testing kits are being trialled in London and, if successful, will be used throughout the wider UK.
North West Cancer Research identified that cervical cancer rates are 21% higher in Lancashire than the rest of the country.
This makes it even more important for women of this region to be tested, even whilst in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A 47-year-old woman from Kirkham who recently had a smear shared her experience of the procedure saying:
“It took around one to two minutes, the doctor spoke the same as at a usual check up, making me feel relaxed and didn’t make me feel rushed.”
She also felt that the age women are called for smears should be lowered from their current 25-64 bracket as they are “an important part of female health”.