Jane’s Story: Booking a smear test

Five million women are invited for a smear test, but 1 in 4 women don't attend their smear test. Why is that? We assume it is because people are worried about the procedure. Could it be in part because people are struggling to get an appointment?
Woman in a teddy bear coat standing in front of a red brick wall.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under. However, the number of people going for smear tests is lower than ever. You might not have booked yours yet because of nerves and vulnerabilities. However, some people like Jane struggle to book a smear test at their Doctors.

Jane's Story

In September, Jane* received a reminder from her GP to book a cervical screening. When she tried to make the appointment at her GP, she was told that they had no appointments for 4 weeks. Jane’s surgery only offered appointments for smear tests on a Thursday and told her to call back in 4 weeks time.

After the 4 weeks passed, Jane made another call and came up to the same issue again: they had no appointments available for another 4 weeks. 

When Jane received a reminder by NHS England in November she called her Doctors again.  This time there was an appointment available, but it wasn’t until the first week of the new year.

“Oddly, the appointments are scheduled during the day, even though the tests are aimed at working-age women, so it will always be difficult to find a suitable appointment time.”

The receptionist advised Jane to contact the sexual health clinic helpline to arrange a test. However, when she tried that, the sexual health team told her they no longer offered the cervical screening test to women in their clinics and were focusing on STD screening and emergency contraception. They told her that all cervical screening is undertaken by GP clinics. So Jane was back to square one again.

After hearing Theresa May, NHS England and numerous celebrities talk about cancer screening being at a 21- year low, Jane decided to share her story with Healthwatch Kent.

What’s your experience?

We’d like to hear your experience of booking your smear test! Help improve access to smear tests and share your story.

Share your experience

If you would like more information about cervical screening, check out Jo's Cancer Trust or Cancer Reseach UK

 *Jane is not her real name