A new special cervical screening service for NHS staff is already helping save lives – after a nurse had pre-cancerous cells found and treated.
Lynne Kitching, a continence nurse specialist, is one of the staff at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust who has used the service after it launched at the end of last year.
After attending a smear-test appointment at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, the service detected abnormalities in her cervix.
Following this, she had treatment to remove the abnormal area – a procedure which will prevent cancer developing in the future.
At the age of 61, the test was due to be Lynne’s last one – as part of the national screening programme all women aged 25 to 64 are invited to be tested every three to five years.
It is not a test for cancer, but rather a test to prevent cancer – with a small sample of cells checked for certain types of high risk human papillomavirus (HPV).
Lynne, who is from Hartlepool and has a husband and two sons, said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked when I was told the news.
“This smear test was actually supposed to be my last on the programme, so I feel lucky.
“Though I have always attended my screening appointments, this service is making it more convenient for staff to do so.
“I work at Hartlepool and it means I can have my appointment in the same building I work in.
“The team are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, caring and committed to helping women catch issues as early as possible.”
One in three women do not take up the offer of a screening in Teesside.
The service was first created by lead specialist nurse colposcopist Nicola Anderson to capture those women who may have challenges making a screening appointment.
Nicola said: “Women like Lynne are proof that if staff use the service, we can catch any abnormality and provide treatment before it becomes something more serious.
“Not only was Lynne able to make an appointment quickly and at her convenience, but she was then able to receive further treatment with us very easily.
“Since the service started we have been really pleased with the response – women are using the service and we are treating issues quickly.
“But we want to encourage all female staff that this service is here for them. It is not just for medical staff, domestic, portering, admin, kitchen staff are all welcome and are encouraged to use the service.
“Staff can book an appointment with us during their working day, if needed, so that they don’t even need any time away.
“Any screening appointment missed is a potential opportunity missed to catch any issues early.”
Staff can make an appointment by calling 01429 522268 or emailing [email protected]