Health board urges women to use free screen­ing ser­vice

Waihi Leader - - News -

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.

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