Now the Jade Goody effect has worn off, will you still have your smear test?

Now the Jade Goody effect has worn off, will you still have your smear test? || Today, I've written about how the Jade Goody effect has worn off and how, in the UK, we are at a 20-year low for women having smear tests, especially in the 25-35 age bracket. I want to raise awareness for health services across the UK that make it easier for women to attend their smear test appointment so I've written about it on my blog.  Read in full at and please share if you can.  Thanks.  #womenshealth #smeartest #cervicalcancer #smearforsmear
Photo Credit : Jerry Kiesewetter

Back in 2009 a report noted that media coverage of celebrity illness triggers a 'cause and effect' situation. The example used was the positive effect on the take-up of cervical screening (a smear test) after the coverage of Jade Goody's battle against cervical cancer.

Jade was part of that hard-to-reach age group - the women aged 25-35 - and because Jade was a woman who wore her heart on her sleeve, made mistakes in a very public arena and spoke her mind, her circumstances created an identifiable event which was much more effective than a national campaign or a simple leaflet. 

Fast forward nine years and the Jade Goody effect is wearing off. Across the UK cervical screening figures have fallen with more than 1.2 million women not taking action on their reminder for a smear test - a 20-year low. Because of our wonderful National Health Service, the smear test is free, is available to all women over the age of 25 (and to any sexually active woman of any age, upon request) and we are advised to have have our smear test every three years. 

The reason I'm talking about this is because I saw a Facebook update from my friend, Claire, over the weekend and my jaw dropped when I read it.  

There's a fantastic initiative in Blackburn at Barbara Castle Way Health Centre which ensures that every woman who works regular office hours can be seen for a smear test at a time convenient to them, including at the weekend.  The clinic has been running since the beginning of the year but Claire was the first person who had actually shown up to take advantage of the service provision.  Yes, seriously!! Many appointments had been made however everyone, bar Claire, had been a no-show... in a time where it feels like the NHS is at breaking point!

OK, every woman knows that a smear test isn't the most comfortable thing to go through and you're probably not going to be swapping phone numbers with the nurse who does your test, but its definitely something that I used* to put up with because I was so fearful of the alternative. 

(If you have never had a smear test or you're unsure what happens and why, then it's really worth checking out this handy web page from Jo's Trust which explains everything in plain language.)

We all lead such busy lives that fitting in a five minute appointment sometimes feels impossible, especially when GP surgery hours usually clash with work and family commitments. It would definitely be worth researching in your local area to see if there is a similar offering and spreading the word.  

If you have a similar clinic service in your town, please leave the details in the comments below for other women to use as a reference.  

*You may be wondering why I said "I used to" go for smear tests.  I had a full hysterectomy when I was age 31 due to a long history of gynaecological problems.  One of these issues was found during a regular smear test when I was 22 which led to colposcopy treatment.  This solved the initial problem but there were many more issues which led to the full hysterectomy - not a decision that was taken lightly by my consultant or myself, but one that was the end of a long journey.  Because cancer had affected a few family members - including my daughter - I was always vigilant about attending smear tests when required and it's something that I want to encourage all women to do too.