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Concern over low smear test attendance figures

Dr Heather Currie Credit: ITV Border

A gynaecologist from Dumfries says that more women from the south of Scotland and Cumbria could die from cervical cancer, unless there's an increase in people attending their screening appointments.

Around one in every four women in Scotland are now missing out on their routine smear tests, with uptake at a ten year low.

"That's very concerning i mean that's the lowest it's been for a long time so we have a big worry that if this rate doesn't increase that we will be picking up more people in the future that have changes that could have been treated at a much earlier stage."

– Dr Heather Currie, Gynaecologist, NHS D&G

Catherine Schlag and Christine Potts say they owe theirs lives to smear tests. The sisters, from Dumfries, have both had laser treatment to remove pre-cancerous cells, which were picked up on their very first smear.

"It was a major shock for me. I was very worried about it and very nervous about the outcome. The whole process of what happened and the actual treatment itself was pretty horrific."

– Catherine Schlag
Catherine Schlag and Christine Potts Credit: ITV Border

Both sisters have been given the all clear, but will continue to be monitored.

The vast majority of smear tests return with negative results, but the tests which pick up abnormal changes can be life-saving, according to Dr Currie.

"It's just so sad that if we see somebody who actually has cancer where we could have picked up changes earlier and done a treatment to prevent the cancer.

"We cannot emphasise strongly enough how important it is to have your smear test. It's such a quick procedure and could save your life.'

– Dr Heather Currie, Gynaecologist, NHS D&G

Cervical screening is currently offered to women aged between 25 and 64 and takes place at your local GP surgery.

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WATCH: We put your healthcare questions to the Success Regime

A public consultation into plans to make major changes to healthcare in North, West and East Cumbria ended at midnight.

The Success Regime, which was brought in to look at problems in health care in the county, say the plans will improve services and save money.

But there's been some vocal public opposition, especially over proposals to cut beds in community hospitals and end consultant-led maternity care at the West Cumberland Hospital.

There have been many public meetings to discuss the plans and hear concerns, but some of you got in touch with us to say you still have questions. Here's Hannah McNulty, to try to get some answers.

WATCH: Cumbrian woman backs national brain tumour campaign

A Cumbria woman whose father has terminal brain cancer is backing a national campaign for more research into the disease.

Vicky Mason from Whitehaven has been raising awareness of brain tumours since her father Christopher Todd was diagnosed two years ago

This week the charity Brain Tumour Research published a report highlighting the problem of underfunding in the UK - something the Government is now looking into with a special task group. Matthew Taylor reports.

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Community hospital 'crunch meetings'

The future of some of Cumbria's community hospitals are back in the spotlight today.

After a series of protests by campaigners against proposed changes, health bosses are holding public meetings in Wigton and Alston to address people's concerns.

The Success Regime is tasked with improving healthcare in the county.

Text message health service continuing over summer

Credit: Press Association

A text message service for young people in Cumbria to contact their school nurse confidentially about health-related issues will continue to run during the summer holidays.

ChatHealth is available to secondary school pupils between the ages of eleven and nineteen.

“Throughout the summer holidays we want to continue supporting young people and help give them advice on any worries they have. Our new text messaging service for 11-19 year olds is a great way for young people to get in touch with us if they need a confidential chat over something they are concerned about.

“We can help with a wide range of issues such as giving advice on bullying, emotional health and well-being and sexual health as well as answering all other queries.”

– Amanda Hulse, School Nurse at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

ChatHealth is available Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 4.00pm and all throughout the year. The number to text the service is 07480 635 458.

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