Health & Safety

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Employers and GPs must Help Fight Cancer

2 March 2011

New figures published recently reveal that Employers and GPs need to do more to help women protect themselves against Cervical Cancer, a disease that claims three lives every day.

cancer cells

GPs and Employers Lack Flexibility

A lack of flexibility by employers and GPs to enable women to attend cervical screening could be putting women at risk, according to the results of a YouGov survey for leading charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, the only UK charity dedicated to women and those close to them affected by cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer.

Cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives every year in the UK. However, a significant number of women taking part in the survey stated that lack of appointment choice at surgeries and difficulty taking time off work is a factor in them delaying or even missing this vital test.

Key Findings of the YouGov Survey

  • Over a third of women of screening age* that work (39%) and have missed or delayed appointments said they didn't find it easy to leave work in order to attend cervical screening appointments and more than a quarter (26%) admitted they would be more encouraged to attend if their company was more flexible and they didn't have to take holiday for an appointment.
  • Only 16% of women of screening age* that have missed or delayed appointments agreed that their GP surgery offers screening appointments in the evenings or on weekends which has made it easier to attend a screening.
  • Almost one in three (30%) women aged 25-34 that have missed or delayed appointments and work said they always book holidays to attend appointments because they were too embarrassed to talk to their employers.
  • Almost a third (29%) of women of screening age* who missed or delayed a screening appointment said it is hard to book an appointment for cervical screening at a convenient time.
  • Of women of screening age* who had missed or delayed appointments, 35% agreed that if GP surgery opening times had been more flexible it would have encouraged them or even ensured they attended those appointments.

The results of this YouGov survey shows there is still much to do and Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is calling on employers and GPs to think creatively about how they will ensure women are given every opportunity to attend screening when invited.

Further Facts

14 million women in the UK are in full or part-time employment and the potential impact employers' lack of flexibility could be having on women's health is huge.

Almost a third of the age group of women least likely to respond to their screening invitation - 25-34, and indeed who said they had delayed or missed an appointment, booked holiday to attend screening because they were too embarrassed to talk to their employers.

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust additionally point out that GP surgeries undeniably have a key role to play in boosting screening uptake. Women's' responses make it clear that evening and weekend appointments would make a significant difference to what action they would take when receiving their invitation.

Giving woman just a couple of hours off work every three years or five years or simply offering appointments outside normal surgery hours could mean the difference between life and death.

The CWU has drawn the Report to the attention of the Royal Mail Group, BT Group and Romec Ltd.