Routine cervical screening resumes in Wigan after worrying drop in number of tests

GP practices are to offer cervical screening once more, after new figures reveal the number of tests carried out plunged by more than 80 per cent at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Many surgeries decided to reschedule routine smear tests after the lockdown was announced on March 23, allowing staff to focus on responding to the pandemic and protecting patients and staff from the virus.

Worrying figures show the number of tests carried out in Greater Manchester fell by more than 80 per cent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Now women are being urged to keep their new appointments and anyone who is concerned and thinks they may need a smear urgently is being asked to contact their GP immediately.

Routine smear tests are being carried out againRoutine smear tests are being carried out again
Routine smear tests are being carried out again

During the week beginning March 9, a total of 3,865 smear tests were done across Greater Manchester. By mid-April, this had fallen to just 263 per week – less than seven per cent of what would normally be expected.

This is now changing as many practices begin to offer testing again. A total of 746 tests were done in the week starting June 1.

People due to have cervical screening are now being encouraged to book an appointment.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dr Tim Dalton, a GP and chairman of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “Due to Covid-19, many non-urgent NHS services were paused, however, I am pleased to confirm that most GP practices are now offering routine cervical screening (smear test).

Dr Tim DaltonDr Tim Dalton
Dr Tim Dalton

“There is obviously a bit of a backlog that practices are working through. If you are concerned and you think you need a smear more urgently, you can contact your GP practice about your smear.

“GP services do feel different at the moment and in order to keep everyone safe, the nurse doing your smear will be wearing PPE, including a face mask. You will also be asked if you or anyone in your household are self-isolating or have coronavirus symptoms before you attend. I understand that these things are strange and worry many people, but I can assure you that we are doing all these things to keep people safe when they visit NHS services.”

Christine Khiroya, Greater Manchester nurse consultant with lead responsibility for screening and immunisation, said: “It is really encouraging that we are now seeing an increase in the number of smear tests being carried out across Greater Manchester.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Cervical screening remains a really important test and the best protection against cervical cancer.

“I do understand it can be worrying for people during the outbreak, but if you have been invited to have your smear test it is safe to attend.

“In the current climate, we’re more aware than ever of the importance of protecting ourselves from disease and staying healthy and well. Cervical screening helps to prevent cancer and saves an estimated 5,000 lives every year in the UK.

“That’s why it’s so important for all those who are eligible to have their smear test. If you received your invitation letter a while ago, or you’re not sure when your next test is due, call your GP practice and if needed book your appointment.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If you’re shielding, or have any concerns, please do discuss this with your GP.”

Cervical screening detects abnormal cells that could develop into cervical cancer if they are left untreated. The NHS offers cervical screening to all women aged 25 to 49 every three years and to all women aged 50 to 64 every five years.

Cancer can develop between regular screening tests. Symptoms can include bleeding between periods, after sex or after the menopause, vaginal discharge and pain or discomfort during sex. Anyone who experiences any of the symptoms should contact their GP practice without delay.

To book a test either contact your GP or you can book one at a GP hub on an evening or weekend through the GP extended hours service on 01942 482848.

A message from the Editorial Director, Gillian Parkinson:

Thank you for reading this story on our website.

But I also have an urgent plea to make of you.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In order for us to continue to provide high quality local news on this free-to-read site and in print, please purchase a copy of our newspaper as well.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on our town centres and many of our valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you buying a copy when you pop out for your essential shop or subscribing for delivery.

Our journalists are highly trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards anywhere in the world. Our content is universally trusted - as all independent research proves.

As Baroness Barran said in a House of Lords debate this week on the importance of journalists: "Not only are they a trusted source of facts, but they will have a role to play in rallying communities and getting the message across about how we can keep ourselves and our families safe, and protect our NHS. Undoubtedly, they have a critical role."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis. In return we will continue to forensically cover the local news - not only the impact of the virus but all the positive and uplifting news happening in these dark days.

We thank all our readers and advertisers for their understanding and support - and we wish YOU all the best in the coming weeks. Keep safe, and follow the Government advice. Thank you.


You can subscribe for delivery by contacting us at [email protected] or calling us on 0330 4033004 for details of a participating newsagent near you.