Shock as one in four women in Suffolk and Essex still miss smear tests
PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 23 November 2019
The mother of a 27-year-old who died of cervical cancer has reiterated the importance of having regular smear tests as figures show too many woman are still missing appointments.
In Suffolk, 75% of women who were invited to attend a smear test went ahead and booked during 2018 - an increase of 0.9% increase on the previous year.
The attendance rate in Essex stood at 75.1%, up 0.8% on 2017.
But charity leaders and those who have lost loved ones to cervical cancer say more needs to be done to reach the national target of 80% attendance.
Wendy Goddard, 56, who lost her daughter Zoe to the disease in 2016, said she was disappointed so many people still do not attend and more should be done to encourage them.
Mrs Goddard, whose daughter was just 27 at the time of her death, said: "It is so important to get it done, we need to do what ever we can to encourage more people to attend.
"It is a quick and painless few minutes that alleviates all the stress for another three years, yet so many people don't get it done."
In 2016, Zoe met her idol Peter Andre, when he visited her at St Elizabeth Hospice.
The figures for Suffolk are down slightly compared to five years ago when they reached 75.7%.
Charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said the decline could be due to cuts in government funding for awareness campaigns.
Nationwide, almost one million women did not attend a test when invited.
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "We remain far below the 80% target and have a long way to go.
"Among young women, it remains under two in three booking a potentially life-saving test and big variations across ages demonstrate the need for targeted activities to tackle the different barriers across the life course."
The NHS has pushed for more to be tested for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a major cause of the disease, and hopes to deliver full coverage of primary testing by the end of December.
A spokesman for NHS England and NHS improvement in the east of England said: "We would strongly advise everyone who gets a letter about attending a cervical smear test to attend, even those who have been vaccinated for HPV in previous years - screening saves lives."
Mrs Goddard will be holding a gala dinner and auction at Stonham Barns on March 21, 2020 in the hopes of raising £30,000 for St Elizabeth Hospice to mark what would have been Zoe's 30th birthday.