24/01/2011 18:03 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Lack Of Cervical Screening Flexibility 'Putting Women At Risk'

Have you ever missed an appointment for a cervical smear test because you were simply too busy at work and you couldn't get an appointment outside office hours? It's a common enough problem, says the charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.

woman-at-work-computer Too busy to keep your doctor's appointment? Photo: Getty

So to mark the beginning of Cervical Cancer Prevention week, the charity is calling for employers and GPs to do more to help women protect themselves against cervical cancer - a disease that claims three lives a day - by making it easier for those who work to keep their screening appointments.

And here's why. The charity commissioned a YouGov survey to find out why women miss cervical screening appointments. Out of almost 3,000 women, 32% of whom had missed or delayed a cervical screening test, more than a third said they didn't find it easy to leave work in order to keep their appointment.

Among the women who had missed or delayed appointments for smear tests, almost one in three said they always book a day's holiday to go for screening, as they're too embarrassed to tell their boss what they need time off for. Around a third also said they found it difficult to book an appointment at their GP's surgery at a convenient time.

"We call on employers and GPs to think creatively about how they will ensure women are given every opportunity to attend screening when invited," says Robert Music, the charity's director. "Giving a woman just a couple of hours off work every three years or five years or simply offering her an appointment outside normal surgery hours could mean the difference between life and death."

Experts estimate the UK Cervical Screening Programme saves 5,000 lives every year. Has work ever stopped you going for a test?

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