MKC Training joins forces with charity to raise awareness of the importance of smear tests

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MKC Training joins forces with charity to raise awareness of the importance of smear tests

Worrying new research has found that only 1 in 5 full-time workers were able to get a convenient cervical screening appointment last time they tried to book. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity, cautions that inability to get appointments around work is causing many to delay potentially lifesaving screening.

MKC Training has signed up to the Time to Test campaign to raise awareness of this issue, and to support our team to attend their appointments.

Getting a test around working hours can be difficult for many people. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are concerned that COVID has exacerbated this, as 1 in 3 say they feel less able to take time off to attend medical appointments because of the pandemic. To help address this, we have made a commitment to our staff that they can attend a screening during work hours, if unable to get an appointment at a different time.

We are also supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust by raising the profile of cervical screening and cervical cancer in the workplace, and empowering our team to look after their cervical health. The Time to Test campaign encourages raising awareness of cervical screening at work, after 62% said that an increase in discussion about women’s health in the workplace would make them feel more comfortable taking time off for appointments.

Samantha Dixon, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust:

There are many barriers to cervical screening but work is a very practical one which we can and should try to tackle. Whilst every workplace is different, we’re calling on employers to find a way to offer their staff Time to Test, especially as we start returning to offices, we must try to avoid putting more barriers in place. It’s worrying to see so many having to take annual or sick leave to attend a routine medical appointment, which will lead to some delaying. Employers can help stop this and make cervical screening and cervical health visible and important in the workplace, so more women and people with a cervix feel confident and informed to attend.

Hayley Prince, Manchester, was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was 32 in 2009:

I work in the NHS and was a single mum at the time, being so busy I found it a struggle to get an appointment at a time to suit without having to take a day’s holiday. A Saturday morning would have been brilliant but they didn’t offer them. I was a few months over my call-up due to trying to get an appointment I could get to.
My treatment involved chemotherapy and internal and external radiotherapy and thankfully I got the all clear, but I dread to think what could have happened if I put it off any longer.
I feel that, being such an important screening, we should be allowed the time to attend a smear test in the same way as employers have to allow you to attend an antenatal appointment. Educating managers in the importance of a smear test and how it can potentially save your life is key.

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

We fully support the Time to Test initiative, to encourage everyone who works for the RCOG to attend their cervical screening appointments. It is vital that women attend these screenings as the best protection against cervical cancer, and we want all employees to feel supported in taking time to prioritise their own health and wellbeing where needed.

Click here for more information about Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and how you can get your organisation involved.

The stats...

  • When asked about the last time they tried to book, only 27% were able to get a convenient appointment, and this is lower among those who work full time
  • 32% say that the pandemic has made them feel less able to take time off to attend medical appointments
  • 23% say that working from home has made it easier to attend medical appointments but if they go back to the office, it will be harder
  • 24% have always worked shifts which make it difficult to go to medical appointments
  • 15% have delayed because of work
  • 20% have used annual leave to attend cervical screening, 17% have used unpaid leave, 16% have used sick leave
  • 48% are uncomfortable discussing cervical/gynae health with their managers
  • 37% are uncomfortable discussing cervical/gynae health with the people they manage
  • 55% are more comfortable discussing dental health, 52% are more comfortable discussing general medical appointments, 29% are more comfortable discussing mental health, 36% more comfortable discussing childcare commitments than discussing cervical or gynaecological health with boss
  • 55% would like to see an increase in discussions about women’s health in the workplace
  • 56% say employers should play a larger role in discussing women’s health in the workplace
  • 1 in 3 think cervical screening tests for ovarian cancer
  • 78% say there should be more education on female health on school curriculums and 71% think cervical health should be taught from a younger age
  • 9% say they find it difficult because they are too busy to attend
  • 13% say their GP only has appointments during work hours
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