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Cervical Screening Awareness Week - Smear Tests During the Pandemic

The 15th – 22nd June is Cervical Screening Awareness Week.

This year we need to discuss why it’s still imperative to have your smear test carried out during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus has changed a lot about our lives, including the experience of visiting your GP surgery.

According to research carried out by Jo’s Trust one in eight women say they feel they are less likely to attend their appointment now than they would have been before the pandemic, and 13 per cent believe it would be best to put off having their test at the moment.

If you have been invited for cervical screening (a smear test), you may have questions or concerns about how your appointment will work now. Jo’s Trust have put together some handy FAQs which should have the answers you need.

Here are some of the questions we thought you would like answers to:

Although your cervical screening test will be the same, your experience at your GP surgery may seem a little different at the moment. Your GP surgery will have safety measures in place to keep you and their staff safe, including your nurse or doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)  and being asked to follow certain instructions, such as waiting outside until it’s time for your appointment or using a particular door.

We know change like this can cause some anxiety, so below we answer more specific questions about what to expect at your cervical screening appointment and where to find out more. We are also here to talk through the changes and help answer your questions on 0808 802 8000.

Yes. Your GP surgery will only offer cervical screening if they are confident they can keep you and their staff safe. You can support them by following any instructions they give you, for example about arrival times or whether they advise you to wear a face covering.

If it is not safe for any reason, for example if you are self-isolating or shielding, your GP surgery will explain this and help you make arrangements once it is safe.

Your experience at your GP surgery may be slightly different to usual because they will have safety measures in place. For example, you may be asked to arrive as close to the appointment time as possible and your nurse or doctor may be wearing a mask.

The cervical screening test itself, where your nurse or doctor takes a sample of cells from your cervix, will be exactly the same and should only take a couple of minutes.

Your GP surgery will have safety measures in place to make this risk as low as possible. You can also help protect yourself and others by following these measures before, during and after your appointment:

  • Wash your hands before and after your appointment. You could also bring an alcohol-based hand sanitiser to your appointment.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put it in the nearest bin afterwards.
  • Keep 2 metres away from other people. This doesn’t include your nurse or doctor during the test, who will be wearing PPE to keep you and them safe.
  • You may choose to wear a face covering.

If you are still worried and want to talk any of these measures through, give our Helpline a call on 0808 802 8000. You can also contact your GP surgery to ask about their safety measures, which may help lessen any concerns.

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, which means it affects the lungs and airways. It is most commonly spread by droplets from the mouth or nose, when someone coughs or sneezes.

Cervical screening is not considered high risk for passing on or getting coronavirus. Your nurse or doctor should be wearing PPE to make sure the risk is as low as possible. You can also keep the risk low by following any instructions your GP surgery give you about safety measures.

You can take a look at the full list of FAQs on Smear Tests during these times on the Jo’s Trust Website HERE*


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