This is a Public Cervix Announcement
Recent media coverage of the drop in cervical screening attendance has focused almost entirely on women’s embarrassment about their bodies.
It is true that relentless body-shaming of every part of women’s bodies affects the way we feel about ourselves, there are bigger causes of the 20-year low in screening attendance in England, Scotland and Wales, which are far less convenient for the governments.
The IT systems being used for screening programmes are out of date and not fit for purpose, resulting in letters being sent late and to the wrong women. And when women do try to book an appointment with a GP surgery, they are often only available between 9am and 5pm or come with long waiting times.
Specialist clinics support women at higher risk of cervical cancer and can offer extra support to those who can't access GP screening for a wide range of psychological, physical, cultural and literacy reasons, including survivors of sexual violence and FGM.
Health services in England have been carved up since the Health and Social Care Act 2012, with sexual health services handed to councils, facing funding cuts of up to 36 percent since 2014. Reintegrating sexual health services with the NHS in England would make it easier for women to choose where and when to have their screening.
There are some groups of women who face even greater barriers to accessing services:
One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, but a survey by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found 61 percent of survivors said there was no support to help them prepare for the screening;
Lesbian, bisexual and gay women and trans men are not always informed by GPs that anyone with a cervix is at risk of cervical cancer
GP surgeries don’t always have the equipment needed for disabled women to access screenings
There is lower awareness of the need for screening among Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust found that a third more BAME women (12%) compared to white women (8%) said they had never attended a cervical screening appointment.
In some areas of the country sexual health services no longer offer cervical screening because they are not commissioned by the local council. In 2009/10 140,813 tests were taken in community clinics (sexual health services) and GUM services but this had dropped by shocking 60 percent to 56,347 in 2016/17. This means that medical professionals can be checking a woman’s sexual health and though qualified to do a cervical screening at the same time, are unable to because it is not funded by the council.
So with a spending review coming up this year, we are sending a message to the government to demand that our specialist sexual health services are funded properly and reintegrated with NHS services, that IT systems are addressed so appointment letters are sent to the right people, and that the government stops blaming women for its own failures.
This campaign is supported by:
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, a UK charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.
The Eve Appeal, a UK charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal.
If you have any gynae-related questions, whether that’s talking about unusual vaginal discharge, the results of a pelvic examination or risks associated with hereditary cancers you can contact the Ask Eve gynae nurse service: a free, confidential service staffed by a specialist nurse - 0808 802 0019/ firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks ago Twenty five right wing men who will never experience pregnancy banned abortion in Alabama and now Louisiana has followed suit passing a bill banning abortions after a "fetal heartbeat" is detected — before many women even know they are pregnant.
Attacks on hard-won women’s rights are growing more prevalent the world over. On our doorstep women in Northern Ireland are denied event the most basic reproductive rights, facing potential prison sentences for having an abortion in almost all circumstances.
WE stand in solidarity with women in Northern Ireland, Alabama, Louisiana and globally against this horrific curtailment of women’s reproductive rights. It is time to take a stand.
Just as the global #metoo movement showed the strength of solidarity between women across national borders, we must stand together against these moves to curtail women’s reproductive rights and to keep pushing for free safe and legal access to abortion for every woman in the UK.
Sign our petition to the Government to demand it guarantees women’s rights to free, safe and legal abortions in Northern Ireland and across the UK.
The Women’s Equality Party calls on the government to act now to save our European workforce and protect vital health and social care services.
As Labour and the Tories wrangle endlessly about which version of Brexit they want, our NHS and social care systems are facing a vacancy crisis. Last year there was a ninety percent decline in the number of EU migrants coming to work in the NHS. There is now a shortage of more than 200,000 staff across NHS trusts and adult social care, and a staggering 30 percent of adult social care workers leave every year.
As many as 62,000 NHS staff and 104,000 adult social care workers are EU migrants, but with the uncertainty over their future status and rising hostility towards EU nationals, thousands of nurses are now leaving the UK, deepening the existing crisis. This situation will only worsen if Brexit goes ahead, ending the freedom of movement these workers -and so everyone in Britain -- relies on.
WE ARE FACING AN NHS VACANCY CRISIS. SIGN OUR PETITION TO PROTECT OUR NURSES AND CARE WORKERS’ RIGHT TO STAY
Some people will say this isn’t just about Brexit, and they’re right. Poor working conditions; the removal of training bursaries; bullying and harassment; and low pay, have all contributed to this crisis. It is shameful that in the fifth largest economy in the world, nurses are being forced to use food banks. We have to tackle the reasons the care system is haemorrhaging workers--not add another reason for them to leave.
WE are standing in the European elections because the EU is crucial to our NHS. Our candidate Dr Hannah Barham-Brown trained as a nurse when bursaries were available, she is now a GP Trainee and has witnessed the crisis first-hand.
“We were warned by UKIP in 2016 that we were at “breaking point” because too many immigrants were arriving. Well I am telling you today that we are at breaking point because too many migrants are leaving.” - Dr Hannah Barham-Brown
Over the last year, the number of EEA nurses and midwives arriving to work in the NHS was just 968 - a massive fall from the 9,389 that arrived the year before the Brexit referendum. Our NHS is facing a vacancy crisis, we need to act now to protect the rights of the migrant workers who keep it going. The Women’s Equality Party is proposing radical action to save our NHS and care services, by creating a centralised register of European care workers and standardising training and assessment so that their qualifications are recognised in every EEA country. WE commit to giving nurses, midwives and social care workers training bursaries, the right to permanent residence after three years (rather than five) and access to public funds.
WE ARE FACING AN NHS VACANCY CRISIS. ADD YOUR NAME TO PROTECT OUR NURSES AND CARE WORKERS’ RIGHT TO STAY
For our vision of an equal and flourishing EU, including plans for a new and transformative EU-wide Care Workers’ Passport, read our manifesto not just to remain in the EU, but to advance.
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