Leicester flashmob of girls in pink knickers launches cervical screening campaign
A GROUP of young women walking around town with their knickers tucked in their skirts may have seemed like a bad joke, but the girls were out to make a serious point yesterday.
The cheeky 'flash mob', wearing bright pink knickers, was organised by the NHS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and took place at the city's clock tower.
Organiser Heidi King said: "One of the main reasons women in Leicestershire and Rutland say they don't get their cervical smear done is because they are embarrassed."
"Today we are raising awareness by suggesting that having your knickers tucked in your skirt is embarrassing, but having a cervical smear test done isn't, it's normal."
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Studies show the main reasons Leicestershire women do not attend their cervical screening appointments are embarrassment, fear of pain or that they don't have enough time.
So the campaign called "No excuses" has been launched by the NHS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.It aims to promote cervical screening to women aged 25-29, addressing the main barriers to screening and letting them know that if caught early, cervical cancer can often easily be treated.
The flash mob also made an appearance at Coalville Clock Tower in the afternoon.Among its aims was promoting www.noexcuses-nhs.co.uk - where information on cervical screening can be found, including advice and frequently asked questions.
Almost 3,400 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year – that's nine women every day.
It is the most common cancer in women under 35 years old.
Dr Sue Ellerby, Leicester's deputy director of public health, said: "The national target is to screen 80 per cent of eligible women. Last year three quarters of eligible Leicester women had been screened, but the response was particularly poor from those aged 25 to 29, where only 57 per cent accepted their invitation to have the test.
"These are the women who we particularly want to reach with this campaign, and they need to make sure they are registered with a GP to be invited to have the test."
Dawn Warner, an NHS social marketing manager co-ordinating the campaign, said: "We organised the flash mob to catch people's attention, raise awareness of cervical screening and to remind young women there are more embarrassing things than having a cervical screening test."
If you are female and between the ages of 25 and 64, NHS cervical screening programme staff will write to you every three to five years and ask you to go for a test at your GP surgery.
It is important that you attend these appointments, because, if caught early, treatment can often prevent cervical changes developing into cancer.