Funding to boost cancer screening rates

Health Secretary Shona Robison
Health Secretary Shona Robison

A new scheme to decrease health inequalities connected to cervical cancer screening rates has been given £180,600.

Charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has been awarded the funding through the Scottish Government’s Cancer Strategy, which will be used to launch a Glasgow Outreach service, targeting groups less likely to attend screening appointments.

An outreach coordinator will be employed for three years to work closely with disadvantaged groups, community and health organisations to improve uptake. They will recruit and train 90 community champions to help work with women in those communities.

Health Secretary Shona Robison announced the funding as the latest cancer waiting time statistics are published by ISD Scotland.

Performance against the 62 day waiting time standard for people with a suspicion of cancer is at 87.5% (87.1% in previous quarter). For those with a diagnosis of cancer, 94.1% had their first treatment within 31 days ( 94.3% in previous quarter).

Ms Robison said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce this funding for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. We know uptake rates for screening are lower among certain communities, particularly more deprived areas. We must do all everything we can to change this, and ensure that all women access these services in equal numbers, regardless of their background.

“Jo’s Glasgow Outreach Service will trial an innovative approach to addressing these issues. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the three year project.”

Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: “Cervical screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers yet attendance in Glasgow is the lowest across Scotland with one in three women not taking up their invitation to this potentially life-saving test.

“I am thrilled that the Scottish Government has given us the opportunity to tackle this issue at a grass roots level and make a real difference to the lives of women in Glasgow.

“Through our new Glasgow Outreach Service we will be able to work with women in their communities to address the barriers to screening that exist, reduce health inequalities and raise much needed awareness of cervical cancer and prevention, ultimately saving lives.”

Commenting on the cancer waiting times, Ms Robison added: “While it’s encouraging that performance against our 62 day waiting time standard has improved, clearly we want to do more to ensure that our targets are met.

“Backed by our five-year £100 million Cancer Strategy, last December I announced a number of changes to benefit patients and increase access for all cancer patients – particularly focussed on urology and colorectal cancer. We are also reforming outpatient services, streamlining access to cancer specialists and decreasing the time it takes to get a diagnosis.”