Health board urges women to use free screening service
The Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation (WBOP PHO) is urging women to take the opportunity to put their health first by accessing free screening services.
The WBOP PHO’s Health and Wellness Services offers free breast and cervical screening, in collaboration with general practices, and is appealing particularly for those women who have not been screened for more than five years to get in touch.
“Women have a vital and cherished role to play in the family unit and it’s important that they look after themselves,” services leader Philippa Jones said. “Multiple demands on their time can mean women often end up putting themselves last but, in order to be there for others, you have to look after yourself too. Now that school has gone back, it’s the ideal time for women to follow up on those New Year’s resolutions and make their health a priority,” she adds.
The WBOP PHO’s Support to Screening Service team receives referrals from GPs, the National Cervical Screening Programme and BreastScreen Aotearoa, of ‘priority women’ who were overdue or who had never been screened before. These difficultto-reach women are referred to Health and Wellness Services after multiple attempts to engage with them have failed.
“We want every woman in New Zealand to enjoy the same health status, and staying well through regular screening is an important step towards achieving this goal. Both cervical and breast cancer can be successfully treated if caught early enough,” Mrs Jones said.
Last year, the WBOP PHO had 112 of these hard to reach, high priority women attend for their cervical smears and 177 women for breast screening, surpassing expected Ministry of Health screening targets by 58 per cent and 177 per cent respectively.
“We have had women attend screening who have not been screened for 20 years, and some who had never been at all — one of the women was 69 years old.” Mrs Jones said.
“These are women who, for a variety of reasons, have not kept up with regular screening. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of extra encouragement and support to get them through the door. We offer support in a variety of ways, from home visits to helping to arrange babysitting and transport.”
Recent cervical screening figures show an overall uptake of 82 per cent of all women in the Western Bay, suprassing the
national target of 80 per cent. The percentages of Maori and Pacific Island women screened is 78 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.
“It is extremely pleasing to see the performance gap between total women and other groups closing. As a PHO we have set a goal of achieving 85 per cent for all groups of women and this shows that we are well
on the way to achieving that,” Mrs Jones said.
Health and Wellness Services was located at 154 First Ave and has a walk-in clinic Monday to Friday, and Saturday by appointment.
The service also holds various community and workplace clinics, with a mobile breast screening bus visiting Waihi from June 18-July 6.