BRADFORD has the lowest rate for cervical cancer screening outside London, analysis of health data has found.

The screening rate in England is at a 21-year low and there are fears women are at a greater risk of not getting treatment early enough if they have the disease.

According to analysis by Better2Know, provider of sexual health services, 2 in 5 women in the Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas do not attend an appointment within the target period - that’s 11 per cent lower than the national average.

Research from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found 1 in 3 women in the UK are too embarrassed to get tested.

Anthea Morris, sexual health expert and co-founder of Better2Know, said: “Our advice is that all women should have a regular cervical cancer screening.

“Your GP will know when your last screen was, and it is important to attend as early diagnosis and treatment are key to increasing cervical cancer survival rates.”

She added: “Some studies suggest that embarrassment and inconvenience are key factors in women not attending appointments and self-sample HPV tests address these barriers to women getting tested.

“A recent British Medical Journal study found that women are twice as likely to get tested when given the option of a ‘DIY’ test over going into a clinic. The NHS is also currently piloting postal ‘DIY’ HPV tests for cervical cancer.”

Better2Know provides self-sample vaginal collection tests that screen for 20 HPV strains – including those that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

Ian Fenwick, clinical lead for cancer for the Bradford district and Craven CCGs, said: “We are aware of the challenges we face across our CCGs when it comes to cancer. Our cancer services are focussing their efforts on improving outcomes for everyone living in the Bradford district and Craven area.

“Work is ongoing to encourage higher uptake and to improve engagement with the national screening programmes for all cancers (bowel, cervical and breast cancer). Our CCGs have partnered with several charitable organisations including Cancer Research UK and Yorkshire Cancer Research, to promote knowledge of cancer symptoms as well as highlight the practical steps people can take which includes screening opportunities.

“We are developing a cancer strategy in partnership with all our local health and care stakeholders including local authorities, hospital trusts, the voluntary and community sector and local charities.

“The new strategy will focus on all aspects of cancer treatment starting with prevention and early diagnosis. It will also include plans for treatment, living with and beyond cancer, palliative and end of life care. Areas where we can make improvements will be explored and this will include how we can encourage people to take up the offer of free screening.

“Work is also ongoing with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, which is investing in earlier diagnosis, new treatment and better support.”

A spokesperson for the NHS in North East and Yorkshire said: “Screening saves 9,000 lives every year and the NHS wants more women to get checked so that more cancers can be caught earlier when the chance of survival is higher.

“We are working very closely with partners including the Council and the local NHS in Bradford to support women in understanding the importance of screening to enable them to make informed decisions to take up the offer of a screening appointment”