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Cervical smears for nurses: workplace tests boost staff screening

Nurse shares her tips on how to set up a screening for colleagues after success screening service she set up in her NHS trust
Nurse Claire Carr, who set up a cervical screening service for staff at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust

Nurse shares her tips on how to set up a screening for colleagues after success screening service she set up in her NHS trust

A nurse who set up a cervical screening service at work is urging more NHS employers to do the same to ensure busy staff get smear tests quickly and easily.

Lead nurse colposcopist Claire Carr offers lunchtime smears to staff at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in Shropshire.

Workplace screening boosts nurses’ access to tests

The service has proved popular among nurses and other employees and Ms Carr sees between four to six women each week.

Nurse shares her tips on how to set up a screening for colleagues after success screening service she set up in her NHS trust

Nurse Claire Carr, who set up a cervical screening service for staff at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust
Nurse colposcopist Claire Carr

A nurse who set up a cervical screening service at work is urging more NHS employers to do the same to ensure busy staff get smear tests quickly and easily.

Lead nurse colposcopist Claire Carr offers lunchtime smears to staff at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in Shropshire.

Workplace screening boosts nurses’ access to tests

The service has proved popular among nurses and other employees and Ms Carr sees between four to six women each week.

Anyone due for a smear test can make an appointment at one of the trust’s two hospital sites, where they are seen in the colposcopy room.

Ms Carr, who runs three sessions a week, told Nursing Standard: ‘When you work full-time it can be tricky to get an appointment at a GP surgery at the same time you are off. Women say this is just so easy. The fact you can pop in for ten minutes at lunchtime works really well.’

Low-cost service with valuable outcomes

The trust promotes the service with posters in staff toilets, via staff intranet and during awareness weeks.

Ms Carr also uses a series of knitted cervix models to demonstrate to colleagues that everyone’s cervix is different and urge them to keep up-to-date with their tests.

‘We’ve had women who have been ten years overdue for cervical screening attend and now they’re the ones coming back. Some staff who have attended have had an abnormal smear and gone on to have treatment,’ she said.

Although some other NHS employers have set up similar services, Ms Carr said they are rare and urged more to follow suit.

‘It’s very low cost but you can save somebody’s life,’ she said.

Tips for how to set up a workplace cervical screening service

Claire Carr advises:

  • Make a case to your departmental business managers, setting out the low costs/big benefits
  • Think about how staff smear tests are labelled when they go to the lab to avoid confusion with gynaecology referrals
  • Make sure patients get their results – follow this up every week

Campaign to boost smear test uptake

The Department of Health and Social Care has a campaign to promote cervical screening, with latest figures from the cervical screening programme in England showing that in the year to March 2021, almost a third of eligible women had not been screened.

Cervical cancer and screening in numbers

  • 2,700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year
  • 690 die from the disease annually – roughly 2 women per day
  • 83% deaths could be prevented if everyone was screened regularly
  • 42% of 3,000 women surveyed by the Department of Health and Social Care said they avoided smear tests because they felt embarrassed while 34% said they ‘kept putting them off’

Source: Department for Health and Social Care


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