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‘Worrying’ drop in cervical cancer screening in Barking and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 June 2018

London Assembly member Unmesh Desai. Picture: Mike Brooke

London Assembly member Unmesh Desai. Picture: Mike Brooke

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There has been a drop in the number of women in Barking and Dagenham being screened for cervical cancer, according to NHS data.

Between March 2016 and March 2017, the last period for which figures are available, there was a 0.9 per cent decrease in the number of eligible women aged between 26 and 64-years-old screened in Barking, compared to the previous year.

Cervical screening looks for abnormal cells in the cervix that can develop into cancer.

London has the lowest levels of screening among eligible women in England, with 65.7pc getting tested in 2016/17. This is down from 66.7pc in 2016/16.

Labour’s London Assembly member Dr Onkar Sahota, who is the assembly’s health spokesman, has written an open letter to mayor of London expressing concern over the figures.

“It is vital that there is a high profile and sustained campaign of awareness right across the capital,” he wrote.

Barking and Dagenham’s assembly member Unmesh Desai has also expressed his concern.

He said: “Cervical screenings save lives and it is clear more must be done to encourage all eligible women to undertake them.

“It might be that the downward trend we are seeing in our local community, and across the capital, is due to our increasingly transient population, with less Londoners registering with a GP.

“With the level of take-up in London lagging behind the national average, it is vital the mayor takes action to address this serious health inequality. That is why I am backing calls for Sadiq Khan to look into how we can promote awareness of cervical screening in the capital.

“The government must also do their part by looking at how screenings can be made more accessible and ensuring that adequate resources are in place to enable the NHS to reach more women.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor of London said the mayor is concerned by the statistics and all women aged 25 to 64 should be made aware of the screening programme.

She added: “NHS England and Public Health England London are working together to increase awareness amongst women on how to access the cervical screening programme – including introducing a new text reminder service.”

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