NHS England has announced a trial which will see over 31,000 women offered at-home smear testing kits in a bid to combat low attendance for the ‘life-saving’ screenings.
The ‘YouScreen’ trial is being led by NHS England, alongside Public Health England and King’s College London.
The home smear tests are being rolled out through 166 GP practices as part of the national NHS Cervical Screening Programme, to increase screening for the Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.
The swab tests will be either posted or given out by a GP to women aged 25-64 years who are 15 months overdue for a check.
The tests will also be offered to women who attend a GP appointment for a different reason and who are at least six months overdue a test.
Women can then directly return the completed swab test by post to the NHS Cervical Screening Programme’s London laboratory, with results sent back to GP surgeries.
The trial will offer the at-home testing kits to women living in Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets, where screening appointment attendance is low, the NHS said in a statement.
The trial will, in total, see 19,000 women receive a testing kit in the post, while 12,000 will be given by GPs.
“This YouScreen study is the first step in getting closer to HPV self-sampling at home for women across England,” said Ruth Stubbs, manager of the National Cervical Screening Programme at Public Health England.
“London has the lowest cervical screening coverage in the country and is ideal for testing this study. It will evaluate the impact on improving cervical screening participation in London,” she added.