Cervical Screening - the right to refuse

Posted , 6 users are following.

I joined this forum out of exasperation with being reminded to go for a smear test when I have never been sexually active. I found lots of support . It is good to know I am not alone 

So I set up a Facebook Page 

Cervical Screening - Right to Refuse.

Feel free to share your experiences and maybe we can persuade the NHS to help more deserving people rather than bomnard us with unsolicited screening letters . 


3 likes, 5 replies

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    Well done ally197 for starting this facebook page. You are a brave lady.

    Many women have been refusing smears for decades, and fighting a very hard battle against the NHS and the government on this issue.

    Every woman has a legal right to refuse and a legal right to stop the letters from coming, but they keep this well hidden. GP's are given incentive payments to encourage them to coerce and pester women into having this test, which all women have a legal right to refuse. GPs get the biggest payment if they can reach and surpass an 80% screening target of women on their lists.

    If you put your request in writing to the GP they are legally obliged to remove you from the mailing list. Some GP's have a pre-printed letter on their websites, but others will blatantly lie to you that no such thing exists. You don't need one of their letters anyway, as a simple request in writing that you wish to withdraw from the screening programme is enough. Some GPs will try to con you into thinking you can only opt out of a round and they can pester you again every 3 years. Don't believe it. You have the right to opt out permanently, and you can insist on this in your letter. It is your right under the terms of the Data Protection Act. You, and only you, have the right to decide to rejoin the programme whenever you want to in the future.

    Good luck with your campaign. There are many of us out there, who have been fighting this traumatic and unjust assault on our bodies and human rights for decades.

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  • Posted

    Hi Ally

    It's great to hear from more women who question this testing and the attitudes and conduct of the medical profession and these programs.

    I think the shocking treatment of women amounts to abuse. Informed consent and consent itself have both been ignored in the mad dash to reach screening targets. IMO, it's all about protecting the program, the vested interests who feed off it and maximizing profits, it has little to do with healthcare.

    Here in Australia the evidence has been ignored for decades, it obviously suited many, but was a lousy deal for women. Serious over-screening and early screening means we have very high referral rates for excess colposcopy/biopsy and over-treatment.

    Most of this damage was avoidable...our new program will again, ignore some of the evidence and side with excess.

    I don't have pap tests, I rejected them decades ago, I'm 58 and have never had a pap test...and never will, they fail my risk v benefit assessment. My informed decision was made after reviewing real information/the evidence.

    Things are slowly changing, for a long time we couldn't even question this program. It's also disgraceful that women are expected to explain themselves if they decline the test, a simple, "No, thanks" should be enough. 

    Things will change as more women demand to be treated like competent adults with legal rights.

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  • Posted

    You are correct, there are targets for screening, and yes there are benefits to the GPs if they hit these targets, this is to ensure that this public health matter is addressed. You have the right to refuse, like you do with anything. However the reason you will continually be asked is because it is the belief of Public Health England and other professional bodies that the benefits of cervical screening outweighs the risks of potentially having pre-cancerous cells and finding cancer in a later stage. As health professionals it is their duty to make sure you know all the information before you make a decision to opt out.

    People who are not sexually actice are at a much lower risk of cervical cancer and it does state this on the NHS choices website along with a statement saying that you can opt out.

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    • Posted

      I believe it is up to an individual woman to decide whether the benefits of cervical screening outweigh the harms for her.Cervical cancer is uncommon and yet thousands of women have treatment to their cervices for CIN2/3 lesions, which in the majority of cases, regress. LLETZ procedures put women at risk of future pregnancy complications. None of this is ever explained before stepping on the screening pathway. The screening authorities tell women what THEY want them to know so that they screen. This is not informed consent. Many women are now doing their own research, becoming informed and turning their back on this archaic programme. If a woman chooses to screen, she might consider a self HPV test. This programme has been responsible for huge numbers of women being harmed both physically and psychologically over the years, in an attempt to prevent an uncommon cancer. The mortality rate from Ca cervix has been in steady decline since the 1950s well before the introduction of cervical screening. This screening programme probably wouldn't be introduced in the current climate because of the huge rates of overtreatment. Routine PSA testing has not been introduced because the medical profession have learned from the disaster that was the first 20 years of the cervical screening programme. In the early days young women were treated for CIN by cone biopsy causing all manner of complications. Many believed they had been saved from cervical cancer but unfortunately the reality, for most, is their cervices were butchered unecessarily.

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