Staff-only smear clinics to increase uptake in screenings

The initiative began in May and ties in with the Trust’s commitment to ‘Time to Test’; a pledge to say if staff cannot access their smears out of working hours, they will be given time off to attend, making it more accessible and convenient.

Since the commencement of the clinics, colleagues have flooded to fill the spots, quickly filling the first 3 months of appointments.

Sally Abbott, Lead Colposcopist, who works across all three hospital sites, was aware of how hard it is to get appointments.

Sally said: “It’s hard [to find time for a screening] whether you’re working or not, but definitely when you’re working so I wanted to explore the option of doing it in-house.”

With the help of Health and Wellbeing colleagues Katie Smith and Gill Pickersgill, Sally’s proposal was successful and funding was granted to run the clinic for a year.

Since beginning the clinics, Sally, who trained and worked in Edinburgh for 20 years in Women’s Health, is keen to offer varied clinics which will capture shift workers at convenient times – for example after 5pm, during lunch and over the weekend.

She also wanted to stress her availability for colleagues who have worries or anxieties about having a smear test, who want to ask general questions, or who have had a past abnormality that they want to discuss.

Sally Abbot, Lead Colposcopist across all three hospital sites

Cervical screenings (also known as a smear test) checks the health of the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the womb from the vagina. It is a test to help prevent cancer.

“Even if someone just wants to use me as an advice helpline, I can help and of course it is all completely confidential.” Sally explained.

“During an appointment, I will spend as much time with a staff member as they need. For some people it’s quick and for others it takes longer.

“Staff need not worry about familiarity to other staff in the room. They are in safe space. It’s their appointment and they are in control. Every appointment includes a chaperone too.”

Jayne Collingwood, Head of Leadership & Occupational Development, Equality Diversity and Inclusivity, and Wellbeing said: “This service means we are making self-care as easy and accessible as possible for our valuable staff who often work long hours, lots of shifts and are time poor.

“Our organisational values are ‘We Care’ and through initiatives like this we want to truly live our values and take action to show that everyone counts and our own health matters.

“We have had a great initial response to this service and we are hopeful that this will be sustained for the long term.”

DBTH was recently recognised by South Yorkshire Councils and received the ‘Be Well @ Work’ award in the silver category, highlighting the Trust’s commitment to ensuring their colleagues have access to comprehensive health and wellbeing services.

The levels to this award are Bronze, Silver and Gold – highlighting this achievement, DBTH was the only organisation to achieve this accreditation during the pandemic beginning in March 2020.

Holly Ridgeway-Bowyer, Clinical Photographer for the Trust and a regular attendee at the clinics said: “After visiting the colposcopy department numerous times now, I only have positive things to say. The team explain the procedure and treatments thoroughly and answer any concerns I have. They are excellent and so friendly.

“Attending the department for the first time can be daunting but as soon as you walk through the door the staff can’t do enough for you. They do everything they can to put you at ease and make it a comfortable experience. I’ve got to know the team well and I know they will always go above and beyond to provide me with the best care possible.”

When asked what she gains from running the clinic, Sally said: “You have to give something back in life and this is a skill I can offer colleagues.

“We’re a team, and what you can do to help them they might be able to help you later.”

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