The Time To Test campaign is a super initiative from pharmaceutical and healthcare company, GSK. It’s a simple message to businesses encouraging them to allow female employees time off to attend cervical screening tests if they’re not able to get an out of hours appointment. Nobody loves a smear test, and it’s added insult to injury (not literally I hope!) if you have to jump through all kinds of hoops to get an appointment. On the one hand, we have a government that encourages women to be in the workplace, and on the other, we have an NHS system that doesn’t cater at all to working women. If you want an evening appointment (no such thing in my experience as a weekend appointment) then you will have to wait months and time it to perfection as well.
It really shouldn’t be this hard to get your health sorted out. The stats are alarming – there was a brief rise in the uptake of cervical screening in 2009, but apart from that upward blip, it’s remained unchanged for a decade. One in five women don’t take up screening when invited. And, in part, that’s probably because it’s just too damn difficult to fit it in.
Legitimate and unquestioned time off from the work place (and what’s it going to be – a couple of hours, max?) just lodges it in your brain as a reminder to actually do the test, but also for businesses to be mindful of their female employees. It’s not a sick day, it’s more of a health hour. I also suspect that if you’ve got any qualms about approaching your male boss about this, chances are they’ll say yes in flash because I have yet to meet the man who wants to have a detailed conversation about your cervix.
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My lovely blogging friend, Hayley, over at Londonbeautyqueen.com, is also backing Time To Test by being a spokesperson for the campaign and sharing her own experiences. She’s was treated for stage 3 pre-cancerous cells after her smear. “I feel extremely passionate about women being encouraged to get regular smear tests after my own experiences, and those of close family members. I personally have always been aware of the importance, having seen my Mother, Aunt and Grandmother all go through endless treatments and procedures, but I still put off my first smear test until I was 26. It’s always awkward trying to arrange time off work (I was working in a company at the time) or take a day off holiday for something that’s not necessarily a day-to-day priority, so it took me over a year to build up the courage to book that appointment. It would’ve been so much easier if I was encouraged in the workplace to look after my health and removed the hesitation and embarrassment associated with something so intimate. Having had to have a procedure in 2013 to remove stage three pre-cancerous cells from my cervix, I’m even more aware of the importance of keeping up with check-ups and booking in for a regular smear test – six months later and it could’ve been a very different story for me. I’m supporting the Time To Test initiative because it’s a cause extremely close to my heart, and I hope businesses throughout the UK sign up and make the pledge; it will make a huge difference and could potentially save lives.”
Hayley has features on What Happens During A Smear Test and What Happens If The Results Aren’t Normal, so any concerns you might have are all answered there.
The Time To Test Campaign is backed by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust HERE and businesses that have already signed up are BareMinerals (yay!) and the Intercontinental Hotels Group. If they can, you can.
And if you’re still to be convinced about why that little bit of time is so crucial, read Stacey’s post HERE.
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