Islanders will no longer have to pay GPs up to £62 for a potentially life-saving test to detect a cancer that kills up to two women every year.
From the beginning of next month, GPs will no longer be charging women for cervical screening – carrying out a smear test.
The States will cover the cost of the ‘free’ tests. Previously, the fees charged by GPs had varied between surgeries and could cost a woman as much as £62.
The aim is to encourage more women to get tested. Free tests have been available at Le Bas Centre, the island’s community contraception and well woman clinic, since the beginning of June.
Around 66% of women in Jersey attend for screening in Jersey. Over the last 18 months, women had campaigned locally for the cost to be removed to encourage more to attend for a potentially life-saving test.
Video: Facts about cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is avoidable if women attend screening. In Jersey, one or two women a year die of cervical cancer. UK statistics show that cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35.
Dr Caroline Mair, GP at the Island Medical Centre, said: “It’s great that we’ve been able to work swiftly with colleagues in government to remove the cost barrier for women. Enabling this to be a free service empowers women to have their smear test when it’s due, without having to worry about the cost.”
Dr Linda Diggle, Head of Preventive Programmes, added: “Two thirds of women in Jersey regularly have a smear test to prevent them getting cervical cancer. Smear tests save lives – nine out of 10 women will get a normal result but in a small number of women, follow-up treatment is needed to reduce their chances of cancer developing. If you are aged 25 to 49, attend every three years for a smear test; if you are aged 50-64, attend every five years."
Pictured: Deputy Judy Martin said that "cost shouldn't be a barrier."
Deputy Judy Martin, the new Minister for Social Security, commented: “Attending a Cervical screening appointment is important for women and can be life-saving. Cost shouldn’t be a barrier to this. I am very pleased that I have been able to provide funding from the Health Insurance Fund and that by working so closely and quickly with both the Health Department and GP colleagues, we have been able to bring about this important change.”
Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf added “The move towards free screening has been a very positive one – after starting to provide free tests at Le Bas in June, it’s excellent to be ‘squaring the circle’ by also including GP practices.”
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