Cervical screening programme is a success in Styal

An innovative cervical screening system implemented by Spectrum in HMP Styal has seen a dramatic rise in the number of prisoners being tested.

Specialist nurse practitioner Nicola Shufflebotham and health promotion lead Jo Harwood, both from Spectrum, set up a more targeted and personal approach to  improve cervical screening uptake at the prison for female adults and young offenders.

Coined the ‘The Butterfly Initiative’, prisoners arriving at reception have their previous cervical screening history explored with an appointment allocated, if necessary. Once the screening has taken place, individuals are given a butterfly model to put on a larger butterfly template painted on the waiting room wall. They are also encouraged to write a word or sentence about the experience for others to read and gain inspiration from.

HMP Styal specialist nurse practitioner, Nicola Shufflebotham, said: “It really has been wonderful seeing patients grow in confidence to

attend their smear test appointments. Our cytology clinics are a huge success and patients actually come forward and ask for a test now.”

  • Since April 2020, 233 smear tests have been taken at the prison, achieving an uptake of 91.4 per cent in 25 – 49 year olds and 96.9 per cent in the 50 – 64 year age group. A total of 19 of these tested prisoners have been referred directly to colposcopy following an abnormal smear result and have received treatment.
  • A further 29 have been HPV positive, needing an annual follow-up smear test.

Cervical screening attendance has taken a hit during the pandemic both within prisons and the community. A temporary two-month screening pause between 12 March and 8 May 2020 resulted in a significant screening deficit.

In addition to this, many of the prisoners at HMP Styal have never attended a smear test before or are overdue one by up to 20 years. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including a chaotic lifestyle and/or a history of trauma and abuse. Harwood, who is present at consultations, decides if additional support and encouragement is needed. As a trusted and longstanding member of staff at HMP Styal for over 13 years, she holds a weekly induction programme where she discusses cervical screening and its benefits with prisoners.

HMP Styal Governor, Michelle Quirke, said: “This initiative is so important and is already making a huge difference. The screening could save lives so I’m proud we’ve found a way to encourage more women to come forward to be tested.”

Healthcare teams in all female prisons work to ensure individuals who are eligible for screening are identified and invited for screening.