Drop-in cervical screening service to re-open at NDDH

The drop-in cervical screening service will re-open this week at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH), giving women more options for getting this quick and important test done.

From tomorrow, Tuesday 30 June, women will be able to drop in for their screening (smear test) on Tuesday evenings, 5.30pm-7.30pm, at Petter Day Treatment Unit in the Ladywell Unit, NDDH. Results will be sent by letter, usually in about two weeks.

A number of changes have been made to ensure the safety of women coming in. These include:

  • You must not attend if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • All women to attend on their own (partners/friends can wait in the car park)
  • Please wear a face covering when coming in. A face mask will be provided to you if you come in without one.
  • When you arrive, please use the  hand sanitiser available at the entrance
  • There will be signage to the Petter Day Treatment Unit, please go there to check in.
  • We have two waiting areas and have social distancing measures in these areas. We will be monitoring capacity and we may ask you to wait in your car if it gets busy. We will then call you when it’s time for your screening
  • Our staff will be wearing PPE

Women aged 25-50 are sent their screening invitation every three years, and every five years for women aged 50-64. When they get their invitation, women can now choose to book an appointment with their GP or attend the drop-in at NDDH.

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme is an important service that helps prevent cancer in women aged 24-64. The programme has made a significant impact on cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year.

Dawn Goffey, nurse consultant in colposcopy at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, helped to set up the new drop-in service at NDDH and is urging women to come along if they are due for their screening.

Dawn said: “We have set up this drop-in service to give women more flexibility and easy access to get this important test done. There is no need to book an appointment – just pop in on a Tuesday evening if that’s the easiest way for you to fit cervical screening into your schedule.

“We hope this new service will see more women take up screening and reduce the number of women developing cervical cancer by detecting signs of change before cancer develops.”

Despite the importance of cervical screening, some women are not attending when invited. In March 2019, Public Health England revealed that uptake was at a 20-year low, with 1 in 4 eligible women in the UK not attending their screening.

Reasons for this can include difficulties with fitting an appointment into busy schedules, embarrassment about the examination and not knowing where to get the test.


Louise Errol, Petter Day Unit manager, (pictured) added: “I’d really like to reassure anyone who is worried about screening that we are experts in women’s health and we’ve seen it all before, so please don’t feel embarrassed when you come to see us – we certainly won’t be. Feedback from patients about our team is really positive and we are pleased to hear patients often saying we are professional, kind and caring.

“Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer; it’s a test to help prevent cancer. It detects pre-cancerous changes so that those changes can be treated before they become a cancer. If you had a chance to prevent yourself from developing cancer, wouldn’t you take it?”

For more information about the NHS Cervical Screening Programme visit: www.nhs.uk/cervical-screening