A novel approach to increasing uptake of cancer screening has helped encourage hundreds of residents across Wolverhampton to attend appointments.

Historically, the city has seen lower uptake for bowel, breast and cervical cancer screening programmes compared to both the regional and national average. 

So a pilot initiative was launched over a 16 week period by the City of Wolverhampton Council's Public Health team in partnership with the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Total Health Primary Care Network.

It saw GP practices proactively contact residents who hadn't attended bowel, cervical or breast screening to speak with them about the benefits of undertaking the process and respond to any anxieties, questions, perceived barriers or fears people may have. 

Staff received training from experts within the respective cancer screening programmes so they could feel equipped to hold a quality conversation with their patients and, as a result, nearly 1,000 people agreed to be referred back into cancer screening programmes – with nearly 300 completing their full screening.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing, said: "NHS cancer screening programmes can help to diagnose cancer or risk of cancer earlier and improve the likelihood of successful treatment. 

"Improving cancer screening is key to improving life expectancy in Wolverhampton and this pilot project proved immensely successful, with nearly 300 people completing the screening programme and over 2,000 now having a better understanding of the importance of cancer screening and being able to talk through some of their questions and concerns with medical professionals.

"We are now encouraging the wider primary care system to learn from this pilot and implement a similar process whereby they talk directly to patients and encourage screening uptake."

Dr Salma Reehana, Wolverhampton GP and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the NHS Black Country ICB, said: “Screening is really important to attend when you are invited. It helps pick up cancers even before you notice symptoms. 

“However, if you experience any symptoms such as unexplained lumps, unexplained bleeding and or pain, blood in your urine, or a cough that lasts for 3 weeks or more, please see your GP who may refer you for tests to rule out cancer. Finding cancer early makes it more treatable.”

For more information on cancer screening, please visit Screening and earlier diagnosis.

If you recently missed any screening invitation, please contact your GP to book a cervical screening appointment, call 01384 244177 to book a breast screening appointment, or call your GP or 0800 707 6060 to get a bowel screening test kit.