As GP practices resume routine cervical screening people are encouraged to attend their appointment for the potentially life-saving test.

This week, people due for a cervical screening test will again start to receive letters asking them to attend an appointment at their GP practice. Nationally, routine cervical smears were temporarily paused for eight weeks, to help the NHS manage the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, women aged 25-49 are invited for a smear test at their GP practice every three years, while those aged 50-64 receive an invitation for screening every five years. Cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect against cervical cancer.

Local GPs are urging people to attend their cervical screening if they have been invited, and reminding people that it is safe to attend their GP practice in person if they have been asked to.

Dr Amy Tatham, GP and clinical lead for women’s health, NHS Bradford District and Craven clinical commissioning group (CCG) said: “We understand that people might be nervous about coming to their GP practice at the moment. I would like to reassure people that it is safe to come if you have been invited. Especially for an important face to face appointment, like a cervical screening test. We have taken measures to minimise the risk to patients and staff, GP practices are adhering to social distancing measures wherever possible, and you’ll notice that health and care staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep patients and themselves safe.”

Cervical screening takes just a few minutes and is one of the best ways to help to spot any early signs of cancer. The symptoms of cervical cancer are not usually obvious and people may not get any symptoms until it’s reached an advanced stage.

The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding – during or after sex, between periods or after you have been through the menopause. Other symptoms may include pain and discomfort during sex, unusual or unpleasant vaginal discharge, and pain in your lower back or pelvis.

Dr Tatham adds: “GP practices are still here to help. Many people worry about their smear test, but the nurses and GPs who carry out the test are there to support and make it as easy as possible for you. They are happy to have a chat before you book your smear test to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.

“Cervical screening aims to look for any changes to the cervix which could lead to cancer. Spotting the signs early means that treatment is often more successful. But, if you do have any of the symptoms, I would urge you to get in touch with your GP practice, you can still be urgently referred for treatment.”

If you are overdue for your cervical screening test or are not sure when you are due, people can get in touch with their GP practice.

Information about cervical screening is available on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/

For more information about Cervical Screening Awareness Week (15 – 19 June 2020), visit the Jo’s Trust website: www.jostrust.org.uk

Local health, care, voluntary and local authority services are still here to help during the coronavirus pandemic. Services across Bradford district and Craven are working together to remind local people to still get in touch if they need help before their situation worsens as part of the #StillHereToHelp campaign.