Barriers to Cervical Screening

Barriers to Cervical Screening

In Telford & Wrekin the number of women having their cervical screening (smear) has dropped.  The same trend is happening nationally, in particular those women between the age of 50-64year old (BMC Women’s Health June 2018)

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Organisation funded research into the barriers to cervical screening amongst older women and hard to reach groups.  They also researched the younger age group and the fears they have about screening. 

Jo’s Cancer Trust found a number of barriers to having smears done including:-

  • Do not understand the term “Cervical Screening” and what it is for.

  • Fear

  • Embarrassment

  • Shame

  • Difficulty if they have a male/female GP

  • Lack of knowledge if they still need one (age relevant)

  • If they still need them if they are not with a partner/relationship

  • Painful

  • Appointments not convenient


Working with one of the commissioners for Primary Care Services and the Quality Lead for Primary Care a Communication and Engagement Plan  was developed.  The plan was to bring together a number of ladies as a focus group to discuss their experiences and any changes they would like to see.  It was soon evident that women were not comfortable coming together and talking about such a sensitive subject.

The plan was altered, and through a number of contacts including the Telford Patient First Group, Senior Citizens Forum, Recharge Young Mums Group, the South East Asian Ladies Group and the Polski Glos Support Group women were asked to email their thoughts around the identified barriers and whether they agreed with the findings or thought it was something different.

Many of the ladies kindly sent through their feedback and this was gathered together in an engagement report.  (Barriers to cervical screening- Report July 2019 Draft V3)

The feedback received from patients was discussed at the Cervical Screening Group meeting (Local Authority, Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and CCG) and a couple of solutions were identified, and rolled out:-   


  • The Screening & Immunisation Co-coordinator from Public Health England and the Facilitator from Cancer Research UK are visiting each of the GP practices within Telford & Wrekin.  They will be discussing improving cervical attendance for patients, helping them understand their own cervical screening data, provide useful resources, information and support, share best practice and innovative solutions and signposting to further training.
  • The Quality Lead for Primary Care is encouraging GP surgeries to put some of the Cervical Screening appointments online for easier access.