A new campaign to encourage women to attend for cervical screening has been launched online in a bid to raise awareness and address fears during the pandemic.
This potentially life-saving online programme was developed by the Women’s Resource and Development Agency’s (WRDA) and offers free, easy to access information sessions that can help women make vital health decisions. The work is funded by the Public Health Agency.
Women can access this information in three ways: there are new Zoom group sessions where women can ask questions and hear others’ concerns; a pre-recorded webinar video is also available to watch at any time; and a new animated video provides essential information to give a good introduction to cervical screening.
WRDA Director Anne McVicker said: “Cancer didn’t stop during Covid-19 and it’s vitally important that women feel comfortable going for screening now. In our Zoom sessions we talk about the safety measures that are in place at your local GP so that women can make an informed decision. We urge both individuals and groups to get in touch with us to join the sessions on Zoom.”
Although cervical screening was paused during the early stages of the pandemic, this service is now being offered again. The WRDA information sessions explain what happens during the procedure and explore fears surrounding the process.
Project Co-ordinator Deirdre Quinn added: “The online programme spreads the message of the importance of screening in preventing cervical cancer and in potentially saving lives. It includes information on what happens when you attend for cervical screening and explains the signs and symptoms to look for.”
The cervical screening test, often called a ‘smear test’, checks the cells from the cervix, which is the lower part of the womb. Early detection and treatment can prevent eight out of 10 cases of cervical cancer. All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are invited by letter to make an appointment for cervical screening at their GP surgery.
Dr Tracy Owen from the Public Health Agency said: “Cervical screening plays a key role in the prevention and early diagnosis of cervical cancer. The WRDA online resources are an innovative way of sharing this important information with a wide audience.”
“GP practices are taking recommended infection control measures to help keep you safe during your screening appointment. However, if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or are self-isolating you should not attend your appointment.”
Feedback indicates that women are much more likely to attend for screening after participating in the WRDA programme. A survey of participants who took part in the face-to-face sessions before the pandemic reported that 97% would attend for cervical screening when next invited.
The WRDA is currently taking bookings for group sessions delivered on Zoom. Please contact Katherine.email@example.com. To view the pre-recorded video session about cervical screening go to: https://wrda.net/breast-cervical-and-bowel-screening-awareness-programme-webinar/
To watch the animated video go to: https://wrda.net/breast-cervical-and-bowel-screening-awareness-programme/
WRDA Training and Development Worker, Katherine Robertson (left) and Outreach Worker Emma Ward (right) launched a new online Cervical Cancer Screening Awareness programme this week. The programme, funded by the Public Health Agency, aims to answer questions and reduce fears of screening during the pandemic. Women can access this information in three ways: there are new Zoom group sessions where women can ask questions and hear others’ concerns; a pre-recorded webinar video is also available to watch at any time; and a new animated video provides essential information about cervical screening as a good introduction to the procedure. For more information go to https://wrda.net/breast-cervical-and-bowel-screening-awareness-programme/ or email Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
For press inquiries contact Teri Kelly on 07957142915 or Gary Kelly on 07581282723.
The Northern Ireland Cervical Screening Programme was paused in March 2020 and resumed issuing routine invitations in August 2020, with required precautions put in place to facilitate social distancing and infection control. For further information visit: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/cervical-screening