Photo of Nicholas Soames

Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what plans he has to address women aged between 25 and 35 who do not take the opportunity to attend cervical screening;

(2) what plans he has to encourage and support women who do not attend cervical screening;

(3) what plans he has to address the decline in the number of women attending cervical screening since 2002.

Photo of Anna Soubry

Anna Soubry (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Broxtowe, Conservative)

“Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer” (January 2011) makes clear the important role that cervical screening plays in preventing cervical cancer. The strategy also notes that some groups and communities are not accessing cancer screening services. To encourage all eligible women aged 25 to 64 to make the important decision to attend routine cervical screening, we are working with NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, the Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening and stakeholders to refine the information we provide to women when they are invited for screening so all are fully supported to make an informed choice to attend.

To tackle low uptake among women aged 25-29, the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme has commissioned a study costing over 1 million to determine which interventions are effective at increasing screening uptake amongst women receiving their first invitation from the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. The “Strategies to increase cervical screening uptake at first invitation (STRATEGIC)” study is trialling interventions such as a pre-invitation leaflet; internet appointment booking; timed appointments; the provision of personal support through nurse navigators; and human papillomavirus self-sampling. The study began in November 2011 and is due to run until October 2015.

On 26 January 2012, NHS Cancer Screening Programmes and Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust jointly held an event at the King's Fund looking at challenges to screening uptake among black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. The meeting updated attendees on current data about challenges to improve screening uptake among BME groups and offered an opportunity to share best practice. Documents and links from the event have been circulated to all attendees to help promote information on cervical screening in their respective communities. This was the second such meeting. The National Cancer Action Team, in partnership with BME charities and faith communities, is piloting a targeted approach to raise awareness about cancer and increase screening uptake among BME communities. As part of the Cancer Does Not Discriminate campaign, the pilot, which is due to end in March 2013, is using commercial radio, targeted and tailored information, and direct awareness raising events.

NHS Cancer Screening Programmes has funded an award winning campaign targeting lesbian and bisexual women in the north west of England to raise awareness about the need to attend for regular cervical screening tests. The Lesbian and Gay Foundation's Are You Ready for Your Screen Test? campaign was the winner of the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust 2011 Cervical Screening Award. This is now being rolled out across the country.

From April 2011, in agreement with the General Practitioners (GPs) Committee of the British Medical Association, we amended the existing Directed Enhanced Service arrangements to provide practices with additional flexibilities for them to offer patients appointments at more convenient times to see a general practitioner or nurse within their practice. The Quality and Outcomes Framework for GP practices also includes incentives for practices to achieve high uptake levels in cervical screening. Cervical screening coverage is also an indicator in the Public Health Outcomes Framework.

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