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NHS To Roll Out DIY At-Home Smear Test Kits

NHS To Roll Out DIY At-Home Smear Test Kits

Women in the UK will be offered DIY smear test kits to do at home as the NHS desperately tries to get more women attending their cervical screenings.

With the uptake on smear tests reportedly being at a 21-year low, NHS bosses will pilot the new self-sample scheme in a bid to save lives.

The 'game-changing' initiative comes as Public Health England launches its huge national campaign Cervical Screening Saves Lives, 10 years after Big Brother star Jade Goody died of the disease aged just 27.

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Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the Government's former cancer tsar says the self-testing pilot has "great promise."

Speaking of his bid to overhaul the NHS' screening programmes, he said: "We are about to do pilots of it in this country.

"If we find that those are successful, that [test] may well be able to reach people who aren't being reached by the current service."

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The pilot schemes will run in London and the north east, focusing on women who've missed their screening appointment. The self-screen kit will be sent to them in the post within a month.

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Credit: Public Health England
Credit: Public Health England
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Public Health England head Duncan Selbie said: "We want to find multiple ways of making it more convenient for people to just be able to walk in.

"Or doing it [check] at home. We are piloting in parts of the country a home test, so people don't have to go in.

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"It is not all right that we have this got low uptake. It is just not okay."

A study by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust found that 34 per cent of women surveyed were too embarrassed to attend their smear test because of the shape of their vulva, while 31 per cent would avoid attending if they hadn't waxed or shaved their bikini area. And 38 per cent admitted not attending because of concerns over their vagina's smell.

Kate Fanga from the trust told PRETTY52: "It's perfectly normal to be embarrassed by a smear test but try not to let that stand in your way because nurses are professionals and they've done hundreds and thousands of smear tests - they've seen it all before and what they're more concerned about is doing the best job they possibly can.

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"They don't care if you've waxed, if you've shaved or are wearing matching socks, they just want to do the best they can."

With embarrassment playing a big factor in putting many women off attending their smear - this new scheme could be exactly what's needed to save hundreds of women's' lives.

Featured Image Credit: Public Health England/PA

Topics: Smear Test, Life News, News, Real, Health

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Junior Journalist at Tyla. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the team in 2017. Contact her on [email protected]