Inequalities found in access to cervical screening

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust have launched anew report into the experiences of women with physical disabilities in accessing cervical screening (smear tests). A lack of equipment, policies and a misunderstanding of needs means that many of these women have been denied cervical screening.

Cervical screening attendance rates are at their lowest for decades. Some of the reasons people aren't attending are complex, and one of those is physical disability. Despite many women with physical disabilities wanting to access the test, the report has found that two thirds had been unable to attend cervical screening because of their disability.

Key findings;

  • 88% said it is harder for women with physical disabilities to attend or access cervical screening
  • 63% said that they have been unable to attend cervical screening because of their disability
  • 49% said that they have chosen not to attend cervical screening in the past for reasons such as previous bad experiences related to their disability or worries about how people might react.

Recommendations from the Trust are;

  1. National support to address inequality in access
  2. Each GP practice to review their policies and practice and ensure pathways or adjustments are in place to ensure every woman can access cervical screening
  3. Care Quality Commission and health inspectorates to regulate access in general practice
  4. Research looking at the most effective way of offering cervical screening to women with a physical disability, including feasibility of HPV self-sampling
  5. Sample taker training, and refresher training, to include potential needs and adjustments that should be considered for women with a physical disability.

Read the full report at; https://www.jostrust.org.uk/our-research-and-policy-work/our-research/barriers-cervical-screening-physical-disabilities?mc_cid=fc9c6d37e3&mc_eid=50d2dc83b9