Charity slams 'alarming' smear uptake rate as Glasgow stats lowest in country

Don't Fear the Smear <i>(Image: Pix)</i>
Don't Fear the Smear (Image: Pix)

A LEADING charity has reacted to Glasgow’s “alarmingly” low smear uptake statistics.

Samantha Dixon, the CEO of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, reacted to the most recent data from April 2021 to March 2022.

The charity boss called for further focus on reducing the barriers faced by people with cervixes which can lead to lack of attendance for the vital examinations.

As previously reported by the Glasgow Times, which launched the Don’t Fear the Smear campaign earlier this year, the city’s health board reported the lowest figures in Scotland for attendance in women under 49.

In fact, the board showed a 1% decrease in overall attendance to 64.4% - almost 15% below the 80% target - with those in the youngest category, 25 to 29 years old, with the lowest uptake.

Ms Dixon said: “To see falling cervical screening coverage in almost every age group, and almost all health boards is alarming.

“We have a test that can stop cervical cancer yet over one in three are not taking up their invitation. The latest statistics clearly show that those living in the most deprived areas are far less likely to go for cervical screening.

“This inequality should not exist and must be a focus for initiatives to increase awareness and reduce barriers to attendance. If we do not, the potential to eliminate cervical cancer will get further away.”

More in-depth data, which was released today, revealed a breakdown of the findings.

Of the 20,819 smear samples taken over the course of the year throughout the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, 61.6% were negative for the human papillomavirus (HPV) – which cervical screening tests look for in order to determine who is likely to develop cancer.

Attendance rates are as follows: 46.7% for those aged 25 to 29; 59.5% for those aged 30 to 34 years old; 64.7% for those aged 35 to 39 years old; 68% for those aged 40 to 44 years old; and 70.3% for those aged 45 to 49 with an overall attendance rate of 60.4% for women aged 25 to 49 – the lowest in the country.

In the older age groups attendance was: 77.1% for those aged 50 to 54 years old; 71.2% for 55 to 59 years old; and 68% for those aged 60 to 64 with the total uptake in the 50 to 64 age range coming in at 72.3%, which is the second lowest in Scotland with just NHS Ayrshire and Arran beating Greater Glasgow to the top spot.

A spokesperson for the health board told the Glasgow Times it was working to improve attendance and raise awareness.

They said: “Alongside regular multi-channel campaigns throughout the year, we continue to work with GP practices, our local Health and Social Care Partnerships and community support agencies to highlight the importance of the test, and to identify and develop actions to address any specific factors contributing to low uptake.”