Why don't women go?

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Summary of report content

From December 2018 to February 2019, Wessex Voices engaged with 200+ women aged 50+ years, who live in more deprived areas of Dorset and Hampshire, to explore why they don’t or have stopped going for NHS cervical and breast screening. At the time of the project, the number of older women attending cervical screening appointments was at a 17-year low.

Women told us they understood the importance of screening but had various reasons for not going, such as having a bad experience previously at a screening; felt they were healthy and did not need to go; inconvenient venue locations and appointment times. Taboos also still exist about women's health issues.

Several recommendations were made, but key ones included:

  • Exploring how to make screening less uncomfortable and more dignified for women, both in terms of process and improving staff training.
  • Making appointments more accessible to women in terms of time, places and booking methods.
  • Recognising women feel vulnerable at this time and providing a warm welcome and advice on how they can relax.

Findings were used to inform NHS Public Health colleagues who manage screening programmes and those they work with to improve screening uptake nationally and locally. 

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General details

Report title 
Why don't women go?
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Dorset
Healthwatch Hampshire
Healthwatch Isle of Wight
Healthwatch Portsmouth
Healthwatch Southampton
Date of publication 
Monday, 1 April, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Saturday, 1 December, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Wednesday, 28 February, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Building and facilities
Communication between staff and patients
Information providing
Public involvement
Quality of appointment
Staff attitudes
Staff training

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Other (please specify)
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
NHS England and Improvement - South East
Primary research method used 
Focus group
How was the information collected? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Breast screening
Obstetrics & gynaecology

Details about conditions and diseases

Conditions or diseases 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
25-64 years
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Not known
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.