Thousands of women miss smear tests during pandemic in Brighton and Hove

Posted On 30 Dec 2021 at 6:56 pm

Tens of thousands of Brighton and Hove women missed their smear test during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, according to NHS figures.

A third of the 88,000 women eligible for cervical screening in Brighton and Hove during 2020-21 did not attend an appointment.

The screening is intended to detect abnormalities within the cervix – and routine smear tests are offered to women between the ages of 25 and 64 to try to prevent cervical cancer.

About 70 per cent of eligible women in England were tested during the first year of the pandemic but this was 2 percentage points lower than in 2019-20.

The decrease was bigger in Brighton and Hove where 65 per cent of those eligible were screened – down 3 percentage points from 68 per cent the year before.

More than 30,000 women in the area are believed to have missed out on the potentially life-saving programme during the pandemic.

Older women were more likely to have their smear test in Brighton and Hove, with 73 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 turning up for cervical screening.

Uptake was lower among those aged 25 to 49. In this age group in Brighton and Hove some 62 per cent of women attended their screening.

The figures prompted Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to warn that the drop in cervical screening combined with “unprecedented strain” on the NHS could lead to more women having preventable cancers diagnosed.

The charity said that its research found that many women had put off attending their screening because of concerns about the risk of catching the coronavirus during their appointment.

When the pandemic started, the NHS initially temporarily suspended screenings and delayed appointments.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust chief executive Samantha Dixon said that the national drop in screenings was not unexpected in light of the pandemic but she said that it remained a worry.

Ms Dixon said: “Our health service is under unprecedented strain at the moment and facing a long winter.

“We cannot afford to let coverage slip further. It will only lead to even more cancers that could have been prevented.

“In some areas coverage is lower than one in two and that should be ringing alarm bells.”

Women under 50 are invited for tests every three years while older women are invited for screening every five years.

The figures emerged just weeks before Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2022 which runs from Monday 17 January to Sunday 23 January.

  1. Rez Reply

    This is just one example of the folly of over-reacting to the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdowns and the herd mentality among western leaders will cost the lives of many, many people yet, not just here but in many countries.

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