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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-06528: Anas Sarwar (Glasgow)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 25 January 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to improve cervical screening coverage among (a) black and minority ethnic women and (b) women with learning disabilities.

Answered by: Shona Robison 6 February 2017

Scottish Government officials work closely with Cervical Screening Coordinators from all NHS Boards to develop initiatives to improve uptake for all women and to promote cervical screening services by communicating effectively with a range of audiences. Recent local initiatives to increase cervical screening coverage include running cervical screening awareness workshops to tackle the cultural differences that can cause barriers to attending for cervical screening and dedicated staff working with women with learning difficulties to facilitate cervical screening and assist during appointments.

We recently commissioned NHS Health Scotland to review the cervical screening public information. The results of this work included a new patient information leaflet "A smear test could save your life" which was launched last summer. This recently received one of the 2016 Plain English Awards and will help ensure we communicate the benefits of cervical screening effectively.

All communication materials are available in number of languages and other translations can be requested, ensuring that women from black and ethnic minority groups have equitable access to communication materials in order to make an informed decision on participating in the programme cervical screening.

Two easy-to-read leaflets in NHS Health Scotland’s ‘Keep Yourself Healthy’ series are available for cervical screening and support people with learning difficulties to make an informed choice. NHS Boards are encouraged to make use of the materials available to them when discussing cervical screening with women who have learning difficulties.

Furthermore, we are investing £5m of funding from the Cancer Strategy in our screening programmes to reduce inequalities in access to screening in Scotland. Officials are currently working to establish a network, involving clinical and academic experts from across Scotland as well as organisations such as Cancer Research UK and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to identify new activities, learning from local practice and innovation to improve uptake of screening programmes, particularly amongst those less likely to participate in screening.