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Smear tests: GP waiting times putting women off cervical screening

"I got my cervical screening letter in November and I've been putting it off because I don't want to do it - I don't think any girl really wants it done to them."

Elena Coley Perez is 26 and due to have her first cervical screening - or smear test - that examines the opening to your womb from your vagina.

NHS records show 4.6 million women - or 30% of those who are eligible - have never been screened for cervical cancer or are not up to date with their tests.

Women are sometimes too embarrassed to come forward or put it off because they are anxious, surveys have found.

Struggling to book their tests due to GP backlogs will not help the situation, say charities.

Elena has told the BBC she was already worried about having a smear test, and the difficulty she experienced in booking one put her off even more.

"I got another letter in December so I went to book online because with my local GP you have to go through this long-winded form," she said.

"I typed in cervical screening and nothing was coming up, so I ended up waiting 35 minutes on the phone to be told they had no appointments for the rest of the year and to phone back in the new year."

Elena then tried again in January and was told there was no availability.

"At this point I was like, 'what's the point?' - you're trying to do something that can hopefully prevent you from getting cancer and you get to the doctor's surgery and you just get a 'no' - it's really off-putting," she says.

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Source: BBC News, 25 January 2023

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