Health care provider in rhythmic reminder ‘Don’t Fear the Smear’

A leading NHS Trust in the North East of England is continuing its innovative approach to remind women across the region to get their smear test, especially those aged between 25-35.

The latest figures released by the Public Health of England (PHE) show that the number of women getting their smear tests is at a 20 year low. That means two women will die every single day this year from cervical cancer, yet if every single woman went for her smear test, 83% of all cervical cancers could be entirely prevented.

According to PHE, the number of women screened adequately at 31 March 2018 was 71.4% – the national target is 80%. Screening coverage is the lowest for women aged 25-35, so this latest campaign aims to target that audience specifically.

To promote the important message, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have released a rap aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of having a smear, highlighting the process as a quick procedure with lifesaving outcomes.

The ditty, penned by staff at the Trust sends a very clear message about the simple process of having a smear. Head of Communications and Marketing, Ruth Dalton comments ‘being able to get the message out in a fun yet informative way was our teams opportunity as healthcare practitioners to reach the wider public. Of course the message is serious, and with recent news items surrounding such low uptake of appointments, especially those aged 25-35 – we felt a responsibility to do something’.

The video features staff from across the Trust in situ at the Stockton and Hartlepool sites supporting the plea with passion. Julie Lane, Director of Nursing, Patient Safety and Quality said of the initiative ‘we are a responsible trust, and we take our commitment to the healthcare of our region seriously, even though this video highlights our capacity to get a little creative with our message. Though the video is satirical, it highlights such an important matter. We recognise that traditional channels of communication for this subject are not working for all audiences. We work closely with our primary care providers across the area, and if we can support them with their prevention objectives – we will continue to work hard to do so’.

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme was first introduced in the 1980s and is credited with a decrease of cervical cancer cases of around 7% each year. All women who are registered with a GP are invited for screening:

aged 25 to 49 – every 3 years

aged 50 to 64 – every 5 years

over 65 – only women who have recently had abnormal tests

This week is cervical cancer awareness week, and reports indicate that women attending their tests are at the lowest level for more than a decade. In 2018 a reported 184,000 ladies did not attend their appointments.

For now, the Trust have a clear message for their audience ‘please go and have your smear – as mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, friends and so much more, you owe it to those who love you, but most of all to yourself’.

To watch the video of the rap visit: https://youtu.be/kkvMn3QgBi8

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