Home smear tests to be trialled in parts of London

NHS England has announced that more than 31,000 women will be offered kits to carry out smear tests in the privacy and convenience of their own homes in a trial.

The swab tests will be posted to women or given out by a GP to increase take-up of screening for the Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer. It provides a simple way for women to do the test themselves, rather than have one done for them by a general practice nurse.

NHS England says that the trial will target women aged 25-64 years who are 15 months overdue for a check and live in Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets where screening appointment attendance is low. The trial marks the first time home smear tests have been trialled in England, with tests being rolled out through 166 GP practices, as part of the national NHS Cervical Screening Programme.

As well as those who are 15 months overdue a check, women who attend a GP appointment for another reason and are at least six months overdue a test will also be offered a home kit.

In total, 19,000 women will be posted a kit and 12,000 will be given one by their GP.

Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer, said: “This is an important new way to make screening easier for thousands of women. We know there are lots of reasons why women might not attend a screening appointment, including worries about Covid. GPs have taken extra precautions to make surgeries safe, and these home kits give thousands of women another option to keep up to date with their screening. We would urge every woman to make sure they have their smear test – the earlier HPV is detected the better. It could save your life.”

The YouScreen trial is being run by NHS England, Public Health England and King’s College London.

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