Pop Up Clinics are a Screening Success

Nearly 6,000 women across Forth Valley, some of whom have not attended their appointment for a smear test for more than 30 years, have been invited to new ‘pop up’ clinics for cervical screening. Twenty four sessions have been arranged at GP practices across the area and the decision to set up evening clinics follows a successful pilot in Clackmannanshire last year.

The women have been invited to come along through eye-catching pink tartan invitations which have been posted out in bright pink envelopes. Each name on the invitation has been handwritten. The clinics, which are scheduled to take place until March 2018, are held in a quiet and relaxed environment and women can bring a friend along with them to support them.

NHS Forth Valley Health Promotion Officer Margaret-Anne Macmillan said one GP practice in Clackmannanshire had identified around 700 women who had missed their appointment. Where large numbers are involved, two nurses were employed for a couple of evenings to carry out the tests.

She said: “The women think it’s a great idea to come along in the evenings. They like the privacy, and sometimes workplaces don’t let staff away for routine screening appointments and the women end up having to take annual leave. What we are also finding is that the ‘pink’ letters are not only bringing women along to the evening clinics, but if they can’t attend at that time they are now booking day appointments.

“Some women may have simply forgotten their appointment or perhaps decided not to attend because they were a bit nervous or embarrassed about having a smear test. If this is the case then they have nothing to worry about as we will do everything possible to make them feel at ease.”

NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Jennifer Champion added:  “The smear test saves around 5,000 lives every year in the UK and prevents eight out of 10 cervical cancers from developing. It can stop cervical cancer before it starts and could help save your life.”

Women who have had a smear test carried out in the last three years will continue to receive a routine invitation letter and should make the normal arrangements to attend for a cervical screening test at a time which suits them. Only women who have missed an appointment in the past will be invited to the new ‘pop-up’ clinics.

Currently only around 76% of women in NHS Forth Valley invited for a cervical screening test attend their appointment.