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The petition for Fiona’s Law is calling for every woman in England to be able to access a yearly smear test. It was set up in memory of Fiona, who lost her life to cervical cancer.

Every year in the UK, around 3,200 people get cervical cancer, and Cancer Research UK estimates in 2018, 857 people died of cervical cancer. Whilst there is no single preventative method, the NHS advises the best way to protect yourself is by attending a cervical screening (previously known as a “smear” test).

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme (NHSCSP) reaches approximately 7 million people and saves around 5,000 lives every year in England. The Programme is part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which aims to catch tens of thousands more cancers earlier.

Cervical screening in England is offered to people with a cervix aged from 25 to 64. Routine screening is offered every three years up to 49 years of age and every five years from 50 to 64 years of age. 

However, the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) recommended in 2019 that the interval be extended to five years for individuals who test negative for high-risk HPV.

Impact of the pandemic

There were reports of delays and cancellations to cervical screenings due to the pandemic. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust estimated that around 600,000 tests failed to go ahead in the UK in April and May 2020

An NHS interactive data dashboard shows the level of coverage (the percentage of women eligible for screening at a given point in time who were screened adequately within a specified period) achieved across England. In the third quarter of 2020/21, no Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) achieved 80% coverage.

Documents to download

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