Free smear tests put Bay on target

More than 3000 local women took up the offer of a free smear test in September and October, pushing Hawke's Bay to its goal for both high-risk women and total population.

Latest data from the Ministry of Health showed the region was 80 per cent above the cervical screening national target and is now the third best performing primary health organisation of 19 regional District Health Boards.

Health Hawke's Bay acting chief executive Liz Stockley said the positive result was only possible due to support from family doctors and nurses who went the extra mile to screen patients, even holding special after-hours clinics.

"We are making great progress with reducing the inequality gap in health. It is fantastic to see what can be achieved when everyone works together from those women who took part, to the GP practices and their staff, and the businesses who generously got behind the campaign with sponsorship support.

"We have seen a great improvement, particularly with Pacific and Asian women being up to date with cervical screening. While more Maori women are having smears, they will be a real focus in 2013 as we continue to build on these results."

Hastings Health Centre general manager Hayley Anderson said she was proud of the professional and expert way everyone worked to ensure women had good access to cervical screening.

"Along with the usual daily clinics offered at Hastings Health Centre, a team of nurses offered two evening clinics a week so it would be easier for women to attend.

"We completed almost 800 cervical smears for women patients over the two months. One nurse had a patient attend who hadn't had a smear test for 20 years which just shows how we are making a difference," she said.

"We are grateful to Health Hawke's Bay for creating the funding opportunity for women to access this free of charge."

At Taradale Medical Centre, the cervical screening clinics were full.

Nurse manager Anne McLean said a 48-year-old Maori woman was encouraged by her daughter to come in for her first smear.

"She was surprised to find it wasn't such a scary experience after all and would be happy to return for on going screening."

Every woman who had a smear test received a free coffee thanks to McCafe in Hastings and Taradale.

Pak'n Save supermarkets in Hastings and Tamatea as well as Hawke's Bay Today also got behind the campaign with $3000 worth of grocery vouchers and subscription prizes.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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