More than 1,000 additional women have undergone cervical screening since the fee for the potentially life-saving test was scrapped by GP surgeries.
Dr Linda Diggle, Head of Preventive Programmes in Health and Community Services, today said that the removal of the charge as well as a high-profile social media campaign has helped to significantly improve uptake by women who were due for screening.
Previously, the fees - which were recognised as a barrier preventing some women having the test - charged by GPs for cervical screening tests could cost as much as £62. However, from 1 August 2018, Health Minister Richard Renouf and Social Security Minister Judy Martin approved a contract to pay GP practices for the cervical screening service and axe the fees from all practices. The move also included the decision to remove the charge from 1 June last year from Le Bas Centre, the island’s community contraception and well women clinic.
Between 1 August 2018, when the fees were scrapped from GP Practices, and 31 May 2019, 3,822 women, who were due to be tested, were screened in doctors' surgeries - an additional 996 women compared to the same time period 12 months previously. In comparison, 2,826 eligible women due for cervical screening attended between 1 August 2017 and 31 May 2018. The figures come during Cervical Screening Awareness Week, which highlights the importance of being tested to detect cell changes that could develop into cervical cancer.
In March, the Government of Jersey launched a social media campaign with the tagline "Cervical Screening is Empowering", which aims to encourage women to take control of their health, overcome any embarrassment they might have, and attend their test when it is due.
Dr Diggle said: "It is fantastic news that the removal of the charge, as well as our social media awareness campaign, has helped to significantly increase the number of women undergoing cervical screening when their test is due, rather than putting it off. Cervical screening is very important as it enables cell changes to be detected. For nine out of ten women, their result will be normal and they won’t need to attend again for 3 to 5 years. If cell changes are detected, highly effective treatment (which has a 90% success rate) is offered to prevent cervical cancer from developing.
"If you are aged 25 to 49, you should attend for cervical screening every three years; if you are aged 50-64, you should attend every five years. I would urge any woman due for screening to undergo this potentially life-saving test, and if embarrassed ask for a female doctor or nurse."