Croydon’s NHS is providing more extended hours at GP practices and specialist clinics, incuding weekend appointments, to encourage more women to undertake cervical screening.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but it can help to prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes, which, if left undetected, may develop into cervical cancer over time.
“Getting screened is one of the best ways to protect against cervical cancer as any changes can be monitored or if needed, treated early,” according to a statement issued by the NHS this week.
Only 70 per cent of those in Croydon who were eligible were screened in the past year, compared to the national target of 80 per cent. And since the coronavirus lockdown, even fewer have come forward for screening.
The NHS says that it hopes that by offering more appointments after work and over the weekend, more women will be able to take advantage of this lifesaving test.
The additional cervical screening appointments are available from Monday to Friday from 6pm to 8pm, and every weekend from 8am to 8pm at five NHS sites across Croydon. Anyone registered with a Croydon GP can book an appointment at one of these sites. Patients are also welcome to continue to attend appointments at their usual GP practice when they are invited.
Specialist appointments are also available for anyone who feels particularly anxious about having a cervical screening or who may need specialist advice, for instance if they have previously had an abnormal result. These are conducted by a specially trained nurse, you do not need to explain why you want a specialist appointment.
The project is managed by Croydon GP Collaborative supported by RM Partners, the West London Cancer Alliance hosted by The Royal Marsden. Jo’s Trust, the leading cervical cancer charity, has provided training to Croydon administrators and receptionists to support and encourage residents to attend their screening.
Clinical Nurse Gill Burgess helps to run the specialist clinics, as well as training and assessing other nurses on how to perform cervical screening. “I have been supporting women for many years, sometimes seeing women two or three times before they feel comfortable to have their smear taken, allowing extra time when necessary,” she said.
“‘Never fear to have a smear’ – there is always a way forward.”
Dr Agnelo Fernandes, Croydon’s GP borough lead, said: “Attending your cervical screening is really important as it can literally save your life.”
How to book an evening or weekend cervical screening
If you’ve received a letter inviting you to your cervical screening and you want an appointment between 6pm-8pm Monday-Friday or 8am-8pm on a weekend, please call your regular GP practice. Please note these extra appointments are being offered at five NHS sites across Croydon and your appointment might not take place at your usual GP practice.
You can make an appointment at the specialist clinics by calling one of specialist clinics directly:
- Gravel Hill Surgery – 0208 655 4013
- Leander Family Practice – 0203 457 8727
Evening and weekend appointments are available at the practices below and are bookable through calling your usual GP:
- Brigstock Family Practice
- East Croydon Medical Centre
- Parkway Health Centre
- Purley War Memorial Hospital
- Shirley Medical Centre
Keeping safe during covid-19
All NHS sites are working hard to keep everyone safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Robust cleaning between appointments is carried out, and staff wear appropriate personal protective equipment including an apron, visor and mask.
Patients might be asked about any potential symptoms before booking an appointment and might be required to have a temperature check before being allowed to enter the building.
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