MORE pregnant women and new mums in Somerset are coming forward for cervical cancer treatment - bucking the national trend.

The 30 per cent increase at Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital follows an education campaign led by Dr Sarah Coleridge and Dr Alison Wiggins, gynaecological fellows, and consultant gynaecological oncologist Dr Jo Morrison.

Their work has been recognised with a prestigious Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust national innovation prize.

Their message to women who are out of date for cervical screening is to contact their GP for an appointment as soon as possible.

Dr Morrison said: "Nationally we are seeing fewer women getting screened to help prevent cervical cancer and we wanted to look into the reasons why so we could reverse this trend in Somerset.

"The number of young women being screened was particularly low, and many of them were either pregnant or had recently had a baby, so we went out to speak to them to find out what was stopping them from getting screened to prevent cervical cancer.

"The three main reasons we heard included a lack of accurate information available about cervical screening in pregnancy, timing of the screening after pregnancy and convenience of appointments.

"This feedback was really valuable and we introduced a more comprehensive training and education programme for our midwives and maternity staff, so they could pass this knowledge on to new mums and mums-to-be.

"Before this programme was introduced many women told us they thought that it wasn’t safe to have cervical screening in pregnancy. This isn’t true, and while many women can delay screening until afterwards, some do need to be screened during pregnancy.

"We noticed a number of young women who came through our service had been diagnosed with a cervix cancer during or after pregnancy and some had, unfortunately, not been for a screening appointment.

"Women get general health advice and screening for pregnancy-related conditions during their regular check-ups, so it makes sense to also discuss cervical screening.

"Local GPs have also been trialling extended opening hours during evenings and weekends so women are able to get screened at a time that suits them."