A few days ago a report to Cumbria health scrutiny committee described how health outcomes vary enormously between different parts of Cumbria.
In plain English, if you get cancer and you live in Copeland you are more likely to die soon from it than you would be if you lived in Eden.
And there are also significant variations between health outcomes in different parts of Copeland too.
There are various reasons for these differences, some of which relate to lifestyle, and some to health service issues that the NHS in Cumbria is seeking to address. Two of the main reasons are:
1) Residents of areas with better outcomes for cancer patients tend to go to their doctor sooner, e.g. at an earlier stage of the disease when there is more chance of successful treatment, and
2) Residents of areas where more people survive cancer are more likely to accept invitations to be screened for cancer.
This is the Cumbrian context relevant to the announcement by Public Health England of a new 'Cervical Screening Saves Lives' campaign, part of the government's Long Term Plan which provides an extra £20.5 billion for the NHS.
Public Health England has launched the major new national campaign ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’, to increase the number of women attending cervical screening across England. The campaign will encourage women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice.
About 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease each year.
It’s estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented. Regular screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help stop cervical cancer before it starts, as the test identifies potentially harmful cells before they become cancerous, and ensures women get the right treatment as soon as possible.
That’s more than 2150 women each year who would no longer suffer this form of cancer and 570 families who would no longer lose a mother, wife, sister or daughter long before they need to die.
For obvious reasons, this particular campaign is aimed at women. But the principle that screening saves lives applies to both women and men.
If more people take up cancer screening - cervical screening or indeed screening for other types of cancer too - it will save some of those people from dying prematurely. And It will not just prolong lives but mean a higher quality of life by reducing the impact of cancer.
Cervical Screening Saves Lives.
County Councillor for Egremont North & St Bees
Lead Conservative Member, Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee