A NEW campaign has been launched to encourage thousands of women to take up offers of cervical cancer screenings - as figures show one in four do not attend screenings in Barnsley.

Latest quarterly figures for Barnsley’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area show that in the second quarter of 2021/22 - which ranges from July to September - 31,830 of 42,065 eligible people aged 25 to 49, or 75.7 per cent, took up the offer for a screening.

When looking at 50 to 64-year-olds, the proportion increases slightly to 19,439 of 25,178, or 77.2 per cent.

NHS targets for screening uptake are that 80 per cent of eligible people book an appointment, meaning a total 2,526 people aged between 25 and 64 are being sought.

Despite that, Barnsley’s latest figures place it as the 20th-best performing of 333 local authorities in England.

A government survey released alongside a new national campaign - which also uses a film featuring television personalities Louise Minchin, Linda Robson, Scarlett Moffatt and GP Dr Zoe Williams - suggests embarrassment as the most common reason for missing or avoiding appointments.

Locallly, more than half of women report feeling nervous about appointments and ten per cent said they weren’t comfortable discussing their appointment with others - but 88 per cent report feeling glad after their screening.

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Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director for primary care at NHS England, said: “There is no doubt about it - cervical screening saves lives.

“By screening for risk signs at an early stage, it means that any abnormal cells can be treated quickly before they potentially develop into cancer.

“We know that it can feel embarrassing or feel like something that you can easily put off, but accepting your invite and getting checked could save your life.

“And please do speak to your GP practice about any concerns you might have - we are here to help you.”

NHS cervical screening is offered every three years to anyone with a cervix aged between 24-and-a-half and 49, and every five years to people aged between 50 and 64.

Barnsley is consistently above the national and regional averages, but rates of people attending screenings have slightly dropped since 2019 when 75.9 per cent of 25 to 49-year-olds and 79.2 per cent of 50 to 64-year-olds came forward.

A new high-tech diagnosis centre is set to open seven days a week in the Glass Works in spring, and its increased capacity is hoped to deal with a significant backlog created during the pandemic.

Jayne Sivakumar, chief nurse at Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “We know that more than nine out of ten test results come back with no further action needed.

“Where we do see changes, these can be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.

“We’ve made cervical screening a priority in Barnsley and have recently invested in even more cervical screening clinics.

“Barnsley GP practices have been doing a fantastic job over this past year to get people in and tested as the figures show.”