Women’s experiences and awareness of local cancer screening and menopause

The number of women taking part in NHS breast and cervical screening services is falling across England, so we worked together as an Integrated Care System to find out why this is happening locally, and to better understand women’s experience of support and advice during their menopause.

Last year, over 3,000 women across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Powys responded to our women’s health survey which we developed in partnership with local community groups.

The survey found that although awareness of cancer screening is high, bowel cancer screening is lower, particularly in Telford and Wrekin.

We also found that there is some hesitancy in taking up the offer of a screening appointment for a range of personal reasons, including embarrassment, fear, and the reluctance to lose dignity later in life.

Women told us that they are comfortable talking about the menopause, but largely felt unprepared for it when they first noticed symptoms. There is also some differences in experience depending on where women live, with patients at some practices telling us they were better prepared and given a greater set of treatment options than others.

Women described some confusion between identifying the menopause and the perimenopause. Whilst many are able to identify the definition of the menopause, there was some misidentification with the perimenopause. Overall, there was lower awareness of the perimenopause amongst those who responded.

Women also shared experiences of hesitancy from their GP in diagnosing the menopause confidently, and then separately towards putting them forward for HRT, particularly in women who begin their menopause at a younger age.

Thank you to the women, community groups and partners who supported and contributed to this valuable work.

The survey report will be discussed with the Women’s Health leaders and patient representatives across the system to develop joined-up solutions to improve the experience and health of our population.

To find out more, please contact sath.engagement@nhs.net

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Page last updated 27 February 2023