More than a third of British women of cervical cancer screening age (20+ in Scotland and Wales and 25+ in England and Northern Ireland) that work say it’s difficult to get time off in order to attend a cervical screening, our poll for leading charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has discovered.
More than a quarter of the nationally representative group of 2,467 women asked said they would be more encouraged to attend if their company was more flexible and they didn’t have to take annual leave for an appointment, which has lead the charity to claim that employers and GPs need to do more to help women protect themselves against a disease that claims three lives every day.
- Over a third (39%) of women of screening age who work and have missed or delayed appointments said they didn’t find it easy to leave work in order to attend cervical screening appointments
- More than a quarter (26%) admitted that they would be more encouraged to attend if their company was more flexible and they didn’t have to take holiday for an appointment
- Almost one in three (30%) women aged 25-34 who work and have missed or delayed appointments said they always book holidays to attend appointments because they are too embarrassed to talk to their employers about the real reason for their absence
- Almost a third (29%) of working women of screening age who missed or delayed a screening appointment said it is hard to book an appointment for cervical screening at a convenient time for them
- And 35% of women of screening age who have missed or delayed an appointment agreed that if GP surgery opening times had been more flexible, it would have encouraged their - or even ensured – attendance at appointments
A lack of flexibility by employers and GPs in enabling women to attend cervical screening could be putting women at risk, say Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in response to our survey results. It is the only UK charity dedicated to women and those close to them affected by cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer.
Cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives every year in the UK, but a significant number of women taking part in the survey stated that lack of appointment choice at surgeries and difficulty taking time off work is a factor in them delaying or even missing this vital test.
In light of the results, Robert Music, director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, declared that ‘we call on employers and GPs to think creatively about how they will ensure women are given every opportunity to attend screening when invited.
‘When you consider that approaching 14 million women in the UK are in full or part-time employment, the potential impact employers’ lack of flexibility could be having on women’s health is huge,’ he continued.
‘It is also worrying,’ he added, ‘to see that almost a third of the age group of women least likely to respond to their screening invitation (25-34), and indeed of those who said they had delayed or missed an appointment, have booked holiday to attend screening because they were too embarrassed to talk to their employers.’