One in four Wigan women skip cervical cancer test

A cervical test
A cervical test

A quarter of Wigan women eligible for potentially life-saving cervical screening are failing to get tested.

New data from NHS Digital shows 74.3 per cent of women aged 25 to 64 were tested in 2017-18.

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Older women, aged 50 to 64, were more likely to be tested, with 75.1 per cent being screened compared to 73.9 per cent of women aged 25 to 49.

Testing rates were just lower than the previous year, when 74.5 per cent of eligible Wiganers were screened.

Across England, just 71.4 per cent of women underwent cervical screening.

Charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said testing was at its lowest level since 1997, when 82 per cent of women were screened.

Chief executive Robert Music said women were being “let down” and screening was “harder and harder to access”.

He said: “We cannot sit back and let cervical screening coverage continue to plummet or diagnoses of this often-preventable cancer will rise and more mothers, daughters, sisters and friends will be lost.”

The NHS Digital data also reveals that women in Wigan faced long waits for test results.

While 58.6 per cent of women in England received results within two weeks, only 33.7 per cent of Wiganers did.

And two in five women in the borough - 42.7 per cent - waited for more than three weeks, compared to 23 per cent nationally.

A mandatory 14-day turnaround was introduced in 2010, but impending changes to the way cervical screenings are carried out have previously been blamed for the backlog of test results around the country.

Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “Cervical screening is an important part of stopping cancer from developing in women, so I am pleased that we continue to have higher than average take up of the programme in Wigan borough. This is due to both women and their GPs taking cervical screening seriously.

“Whilst some women do unfortunately experience a delay in getting the results of their cervical smear, please don’t let this put you off going for yours. The cervical smear saves women’s lives. If you have been called for your smear, take 10 minutes out to look after yourself and help us to help you.”