City GPs step up to help reduce smear testing backlog in Peterborough area

The NHS has launched a new campaign urging anyone concerned about cancer to get checked and to keep routine appointments.

By Andy Hubbert
Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 10:45 am

Across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, NHS staff have been working hard to recover services that were paused or delayed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The local NHS is urging anyone who is experiencing any signs or symptoms of cancer to contact their GP straight away. Finding cancer early makes it more treatable and improves your chances of survival.

One area where doctors have seen fewer screenings taking place is for cervical cancer. Additional smear test clinics have now been set up to reduce the backlog.

In the Peterborough area, nearly 2,100 additional cervical smear tests have been carried out by 72 local GP practices over the last six weeks.

Eighty percent of local GP practices have stepped up to the challenge and are now running additional clinics to make it as easy as possible for people to have a smear test, and anyone overdue their smear test is urged to attend an appointment if asked or call their GP practice to book one.

Dr Oliver Stovin, Joint Cancer Lead at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, explains: “It’s been really encouraging to see so many additional smear tests taking place since we started to run additional clinics. But we know there are lots of people out there whose smear test is not just overdue because of the coronavirus situation, but also potentially months or years overdue because they’ve put off being seen. It is so important for anyone that is due a smear test to have it done as soon as possible.

“I want to reassure anyone who needs a smear test that it’s safe to come into your GP practice to have one. If you are anxious about having a test our nurses are very experienced at taking samples and can talk through ways to make the test easier.

“Most smears are normal. Smears are mainly taken to detect abnormalities which could turn into cancer rather than cancer itself. By detecting problems so early it is easy to be treated to prevent cancer ever developing.”

Between 90 and 94 per cent of smear test results come back as completely normal, says the CCG. It provides the best protection against cervical cancer by looking for cells which, if not treated, could develop into cancer.

Anyone who is unsure when they last had a smear test or whether they are overdue a test can call their GP practice to ask. Smears can also be booked at a local GP hub who can offer appointments outside normal GP hours.