Time to Test: Supporting colleagues to attend smear test appointments

6 February 2023

Kingston Hospital and Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare (HRCH) have joined forces with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity, and signed up to the Time to Test campaign to raise awareness of cervical screening and to support our colleagues to attend their appointments. 

Worrying new research has found that only 1 in 5 women working full-time were able to get a convenient cervical screening appointment last time they tried to book.  An inability to get appointments around work is causing many to delay potentially lifesaving screening. 

Getting a test around working hours can be difficult for many people. COVID may have exacerbated this, as 1 in 3 say they feel less able to take time off to attend medical appointments because of the pandemic.

To help address this, we have made a commitment to our staff that they can attend a screening during work hours if unable to get an appointment at a different time. 

The Time to Test campaign encourages raising awareness of cervical screening at work, after 62% said that an increase in discussion about women’s health in the workplace would make them feel more comfortable taking time off for appointments. 

Nic Kane, Chief Nurse at Kingston Hospital and HRCH, and SW London Cancer lead, said:

“I am very proud we are actively participating in the Time to Test campaign and supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. By raising the profile of screening and cervical cancer in the workplace I hope this will empower our staff to look after their health.”

Cat King, Colposcopy Clinical Nurse Specialist at Kingston Hospital said: 

“Don’t fear the smear – it’s important to attend cervical screening and here at Kingston Hospital we can support you to do this. 99.8% of cervical cancers can be prevented. A smear test should not be painful and takes only a minute to do.

“If you have any worries regarding the test, we have a team of specialist nurses who are very happy to talk through any concerns and help support you being able to have the test.” 

Samantha Dixon, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:

“There are many barriers to cervical screening, but work is a very practical one which we can and should try to tackle. Whilst every workplace is different, we’re calling on employers to find a way to offer their staff Time to Test, especially as we start returning to offices, we must try to avoid putting more barriers in place.

“It’s worrying to see so many having to take annual or sick leave to attend a routine medical appointment, which will lead to some delaying. Employers can help stop this and make cervical screening and cervical health visible and important in the workplace, so more women and people with a cervix feel confident and informed to attend.”

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