Good relationships key to Taranaki’s cervical screening success

11 September 2012

Taranaki’s Cervical Screening Programme is extremely successful at reaching priority women, with figures showing that 84 percent of all eligible women in Taranaki and 67 percent of Maori women have had a smear in the last three years. The national figures are 75 and 58 percent respectively. Christine Scott, manager of the programme for 12 years, believes its success is based on establishing sound processes and building good relationships with the community and local health providers.

“We have good relationships with our GPs and practice nurses which is really important. The majority of the population are enrolled with a GP so if practices are diligent and recall women and have good relationships with their patients, we’re going to get them in.”

Christine says staff work hard to maintain these networks by responding quickly to enquiries and making a point of thanking nurses and providers who go the extra mile to make sure a woman has a smear. “We get through a lot of chocolate fish and Freddo Frogs!”

Imaginative health promotion is another part of Taranaki’s success story. The programme has never been shy about taking the message out to the community and over the years there have been some novel approaches.

One year the gaily-festooned cervical screening float won a prize at the Christmas parade, there has been a moving photographic exhibition profiling Maori women’s health, and support for sports events such as bowls, golf and netball. The programme sponsors netball teams at several low-decile schools.

“By sponsoring the kids we get to the mums, aunties and grandmas that come to watch. If you’re doing something for their children, we find the women are much more open to the messages we are trying to promote.” This year the programme sponsored a National Maori Netball Tournament and, in the past, has sponsored the Maori Women’s Welfare League conference.

One of the most successful developments for the Taranaki programme has been the decision to contract part of the health promotion and service delivery to Tui Ora Ltd . The Maori nursing service runs marae-based clinics and employs a dedicated cervical screening promoter who goes to workplaces, homes and community halls to spread the message. Christine says Tui Ora Ltd has proved a valuable ally.

“They take a much more holistic approach, which works well with the Maori community. These nurses are out there doing diabetes screening, B4 School Checks, immunisations and a whole lot of other things. If the opportunity is right they can raise the issue of smears in a non-threatening, incidental way. Significantly they’re skilled to do the smears if the opportunity arises.”

Tui Ora Ltd is also contracted to provide an outreach service which GPs are able to refer women to. Outreach nurses offer smears at home and go to extraordinary lengths to find women who are not on the register or who have missed successive appointments.

Christine says the initiative is working really well and undoubtedly helping to screen more priority women.

But Christine Scott is not one to rest on her laurels. It bothers her that, according to latest figures from the cervical screening register, 2300 Taranaki women haven’t had a smear for over five years. She worries about the health of those women.

“I’ve got my ladies working on it,” she says. “And we’ll do anything it takes to track those women down.”

For more information please call
Sue Carrington
Media Adviser
Ph 021 367 789

Last updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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