NHS campaign promoting cervical smear tests fails to mention women in leaflet – but does offer guidance for transgender men
- Informational leaflet was created by Public Health England on behalf of the NHS
- Early edition did not mention specifically women under heading ‘Who we invite’
- Been amended to say ‘cervical screening is for women and people with a cervix’
An NHS campaign to encourage more people to attend smear tests included leaflets which failed to specifically mention women in a section detailing who is eligible.
The leaflet, which was created by Public Health England on behalf of the NHS, included specific instruction for transgender men under the heading ‘Who we invite’.
According to the Sunday Times, an early edition of the informational booklet read: ‘If you are a transgender (trans) man registered with your GP as a female, we will send you invitations for cervical screening.
‘If you are registered as male you will not receive invitations, but your GP or practice nurse can arrange an appointment for you if you have a cervix. If you are a trans woman you do not need a cervical screening.’
An NHS campaign to encourage more people to attend smear tests included leaflets which failed to specifically mention women in a section detailing who is eligible (stock image)
Public Health England (PHE) has since amended the leaflet to read ‘Cervical screening is for women and people with a cervix’ under the aforementioned heading.
It said the initial version of the leaflet was an ‘oversight’ in a response to a freedom of information request.
But despite the amendment, Nicola Williams, director of the Fair Play for Women campaign group, claimed the latest version may still create confusion as ‘women who don’t speak English as a first language may not know what “people with a cervix” means.’
‘That is why we use common language like “a woman,”‘ she added.
Pictured: An online version of the amended leaflet by Public Health England
People aged 25 to 64, who have a cervix, are invited to attend a cervical screening – or smear test – every three or five years depending on their age.
The NHS estimates that smear tests save around 5,000 lives each year, but the percentage of eligible people who underwent a screening hit a 20-year low in 2017-18.
It is also said cervical screening currently prevents around 70 per cent of cervical cancer deaths in England. But if everyone attended screening regularly this could jump to 83 per cent.
PHE said: ‘Gender-neutral language is already an approach adopted elsewhere in government, health and the legal system, and PHE screening should not be out of step with this.
‘We should be at the forefront of being inclusive, but also ensure we do not alienate the core populations that screening information is aimed at.’
It declined to comment further when approached by MailOnline.
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