Employers, back the smear test

When news breaks that a third of young women have missed their recent smear test for cervical cancer the obvious questions are why and what can be done about it.  Experts have blamed this on a lack of GP appointments, and women being reluctant to take time off work for an appointment at a surgery that does not offer checks outside office hours.   

The uptake of cervical cancer screening has reached its lowest level since records began in 1997.  Awareness and understanding is doubtless an issue here. There was a rush of media coverage when Jade Goody, one of the original virtual reality stars, died from the cancer after missing early smear tests, but even the heroic efforts of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust cannot fix this problem alone.

I’m struck by that issue of women not taking time off work for their screening.  One step is for employers to be part of the process.  Progressive employers might be persuaded to release their female staff from the need to take a day off work – I’m sure many do this already – though maybe so in the professions.  If every British boss actively encouraged staff to take the smear test, on paid time, it might make a difference.  NHS Digital for 2016 is behind this important story.

Kay Willlamson

Image courtesy of The Guardian newspaper