Voluntary sector partnership achieves huge increase in cervical screening rates at Robert Darbishire GP Practice

Crossing the boundaries of Trafford through Answer Cancer was a pilot project by Voice of BME Trafford (VBMET). It involved the roll out of a new cervical screening community engagement model at Robert Darbishire Medical Practice i. This model involved:

  • 1 to 1 contact over the phone with patients identified by the Practice as having not taken up screening, in a range of relevant community languages, such as Urdu, Arabic and Punjabi.
  • Informative conversations with patients encouraging them to book their smear test
  • The opportunity for patients to book their smear test at the end of the phone conversation, with specific clinics being arranged to increase capacity
  • Effective community engagement, taking into account Covid restrictions. This included a Podcast, video messages for social media and other forms of remote engagement.
  • Supporting the Practice in running awareness campaigns for screening


The first month of the project was spent on training and introduction of the Practice staff. Training was provided in safeguarding, Data protection & GDPR, and how to record the call outcomes.

The result of the project were very positive. In total over 3,000 contacts were attempted, with over 500 women booked for screening as a result. This was more than double the initial target.

Particular areas which worked well during the project were:

  • Using multilingual staff to speak the language of the local residents.
  • Explaining the importance of screening and reducing stigma & myths.
  • Being aware of client’s medical history as this helped to understand reluctance to attend.
  • Sending a text message to remind the patient of the appointment.
  • Regular review meetings between VBMET, RD Medical Practice and Answer Cancer.
  • Supporting and facilitating the Practice staff at the practice, for example making sure they had a quiet, dedicated workstation were to make the calls undisturbed.

Areas identified for improvement were:

  • Having on-going evening and weekend clinics
  • Ringing patients to remind them for the appointment, in addition to text messages
  • Having arrangements to speak to the nurse beforehand, where needed, preferably for the women booking for their first screening.
  • Women’s Wellbeing Day at the practice for creating awareness and to break the myths where possible.

Overall this was a very successful pilot project funded by Answer Cancer, which shows great potential for roll out into other GP Practices across Greater Manchester.