Express & Star

Call to 'get tested' as fewer people in the Black Country having cervical screenings

Fewer people in the Black Country completed cervical screenings last year, new figures show, as charities urge all those eligible to get tested.


Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said it will be challenging for the health service to achieve its goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2040 as cervical screening coverage continues to fall across England.

NHS England figures show just 63.8 per cent of 78,280 eligible 25 to 64-year-olds in Wolverhampton were adequately screened as of March 31 – down from 65.4 per cent the year before, and below the target of 80 per cent.

In Sandwell, 64.4 per cent of 96,586 people who were eligible were adequately screened – down from 66 per cent the year before.

The figure in Walsall was 70.3 per cent of 76,230 people – down from 71.2 per cent the previous year – while it was 69.9 per cent of an eligible 83,414 in Dudley, falling from 72 per cent.

Nationally, 68.7 per cent of eligible individuals aged 25 to 64 were adequately screened this year – a fall from 69.9 per cent in 2022.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said it is "incredibly frustrating" to see targets missed for the 19th year in a row.

The charity added the NHS England’s recently announced goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2040 is "going to be challenging".

Martin Hunt, chief executive, said: "We understand that it’s not an easy appointment for everyone. It can sometimes be difficult to attend for a variety of reasons including work and childcare commitments, anxiety, and misinformation surrounding the test.

"But these tests are vital; they can prevent cancer."

The national decline in coverage was primarily driven by a fall in 24 to 49-year-olds being screened.

This age group is invited for tests every three years.

In Dudley, 68.3 per cent were screened as of March this year – a fall from 71.3 per cent in 2022.

In Walsall, it fell to 68.1 per cent from 69.6 per cent last year; in Wolverhampton it fell to 60.8 per cent from 63 per cent in 2022 and in Sandwell, it fell to 61.9 per cent from 64 per cent last year.

Nicola Smith, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "The cervical screening programme saves thousands of lives every year in the UK by preventing cancer and helping to stop the disease in its tracks.

"We encourage women and people with a cervix, such as trans men and non-binary people assigned female at birth, to take part."

She suggested people who find cervical screening uncomfortable ask for a longer time slot to speak about any concerns.

Steve Russell, NHS England chief delivery officer and national director for vaccinations and screening, said eliminating cervical cancer in the next two decades is possible, but relies on millions of people coming forward for tests and vaccinations.

He added: "The NHS is doing everything we can to achieve our ambition by making it as easy as possible to make appointments, with the latest figures showing the NHS arranged cervical screening for over 3.4 million women last year."