Cervical Screening Awareness Week – Supporting Jo’s Trust

22nd June 2022 Clinical Negligence

This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week and here in the clinical negligence department at JMW Solicitors, we’re supporting Jo’s Trust, a cervical cancer charity. We’re taking part in Steps for Jo’s, walking 220,000 steps through the week for the 220,000 women and people with a cervix diagnosed with cervical cell changes every year. 

It is hoped that this week will bring about increased awareness about the importance of attending cervical smear tests when they are due.  I was interested to read that one  in five  women and people with a cervix who work say they find it difficult or impossible to book their appointment for their cervical screening. I am very proud that JMW has introduced ‘Time to Test’ allowing employees to attend their cervical screening test during work time. 

No one enjoys going for their cervical screening test; it can feel uncomfortable and embarrassing at best. But it is so important to attend your appointment to make sure that the early cell changes which indicate you might develop cervical cancer in the future can be picked up.

Speaking from personal experience, I was shocked when, in my late 20s, I was informed following a cervical smear test that I had severe dyskaryosis (abnormal cells). It meant I had to go to hospital and have a procedure called a cone biopsy to remove the abnormal cells.  I feel extremely fortunate that this  was picked up and I could have treatment before the cells became cancerous, and I always urge my friends, family and colleagues to go for their smears as soon as they are due one.

Whilst it is extremely important that women attend their smear tests when they are due, it is also important that the medical profession completes the tests in an efficient and competent way and that they are properly trained to do so. I am currently acting for a client who attended a cervical smear and was told everything was normal, only to receive a call from her GP surgery 15 months later telling her she needed another test. 

It transpired that the nurse who had performed the cervical screening test had been taking samples from her patients’ vaginal walls, not their cervixes. The mistake affected hundreds of women who required further smear tests.  Very sadly, my client’s repeat smear test found that she had developed cervical cancer and, in her late 30s, she required a hysterectomy.  She had a long and difficult recovery from such major surgery, was unable to complete her family and she has suffered significantly on a psychiatric level, now finding it extremely difficult to trust doctors and nurses and the tests they carry out. 

Fortunately, whilst it has devastating impacts, it is rare for such events to occur and, on the whole, women find that their cervical screening test is five  minutes of discomfort or embarrassment followed by three to five  years of peace of mind. 

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Liz Davies is an Associate Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Clinical Negligence department

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