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Hundreds of Newbury women missing smear tests

Strawberry Hill medical centre ranked bottom for cervical cancer screening

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas

fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886639

Hundreds of Newbury women missing smear tests

MORE than a third of women eligible to be screened for cervical cancer at one medical practice in Newbury have missed smear tests, figures have revealed.

Strawberry Hill Medical Centre needed to screen 584 women last year to meet the target set by the NHS – which wants 80 per cent of women aged 25 to 49 to be tested every three years.

The body also wants the same proportion for those aged 50 to 64 to be screened every five years.

Strawberry Hill scored an average of 65 per cent in screening women in the lower age category, according to figures collated by Public Health England, which examined screening coverage at GP practices within Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the UK last year

The findings – which are collated quarterly by Public Health England – rank the centre on Old Bath Road as one of the lowest-performing among 11 local surgeries within the Newbury and District CCG. 

In the 50-64 age range, the centre scored 74 per cent to rank it ninth in the list of local surgeries, comparing the number of women who received adequate cervical screening tests against the total number of women at each surgery who were eligible to be screened in 2017.  

Eastfield House Surgery on St John’s Road was also ranked near the bottom, with a screening average score of 68 per cent for women aged 25 to 49.

GPs across the country are trying to improve take-up rates as the figures show up to half of women under the age of 50 in some areas have not had a cervical screening in the recommended time frame.

Nationally, screening rates are at their lowest for two decades, including some London boroughs, where little more than half of eligible women under 50 had a test within the past three-and-a-half years. 

The Burdwood Surgery in Thatcham scored the highest locally  for screening women in the standard age groups. 

In the category for women aged 50 to 64, the surgery on Wheelers Green Way exceeded the NHS target, with 82.61 per cent of 50 to 64-year-olds receiving adequate screening over the past fiveand-a-half years.

Nationally, Burdwood placed just outside the top 500 – with a ranking of 511 – out of 7,569 CCGs included in the data, which was compiled in March 2017.

Other top-performing surgeries within the district were Kintbury and Woolton Hill, which was ranked second across both categories, while Chapel Row Surgery in Bucklebury was placed third.

Strawberry Hill Medical Centre said it was disappointed by the findings, but ensured the appropriate measures were in place to encourage women to attend screenings.

The centre sends out invitations to patients and then follows up with a reminder, as is standard with most practices.

A third reminder is then sent out to anyone who has not made contact.

A statement from Strawberry Hill read: “Cervical screening is very important and any positive message we can give to encourage patients to make appointments with our practice nurses is to be welcomed.

“We have recently been involved in training for all of our staff in encouraging and promoting screening, including breast and bowel screening.

“Again, these screening invites are arranged by other NHS Agencies which we very much endorse.

“We very strongly recommend all eligible patients to take up the offer of screening when they are invited.”

Public Health England’s latest report shows 1,773 women across nine CCGs across Newbury and District who were eligible to be screened missed tests last year. 

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust chief executive Robert Music said: “It is worrying to see such a high number of women in Newbury are not attending cervical screening.

“Cervical screening provides the best protection against cervical cancer, so it is a really important test, yet attendance is at a 20-year low in England.

“We need to understand the reasons causing women to delay and work out how to address them in order to reverse this downward decline in attendance.

“If you have any questions or concerns about cervical screening then call our free helpline on 0808 802 8000.”

Last month, it was revealed that 40,000 women in England did not receive information regarding cervical cancer screening between January and June this year, after a failure to send out letters by the NHS.

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