According to the latest figures, health centres have missed cervical screening targets, commonly known as smear tests, for the third year in a row.

According to NHS Digital, Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) found that just 76 per cent of the 126,755 patients in Cumbria eligible for a smear test attended a screening and had a clear result by the end of 2021. 

This was down from 77 per cent at the end of 2020, and 79 per cent in December 2019.

The national target is 80 per cent.

However Cumbria did do better overall than the national average across England, which is at 70 per cent by the end of 2021. 

Tricia Spedding, head of Public Health at NHS England (North West) said: "There are many reasons why people may not come forward for cervical screenings. Issues like fear, embarrassment and the lack of knowledge of what the test is for and how important it is. 

"Cervical screening helps prevent cancer by checking for a virus called HPV and cervical cell changes. If left untreated, these cells can develop into cancer. 

"Screening only lasts a few minutes, and you only have to go once every three or five years depending on your age.

"It is important that people go for their cervical screening appointment when they are invited. The NHS cervical screening programme saves thousands of lives every year in the UK and is available from your general practice or sexual health clinic."

This is in line with what Samantha Dixon said. She is the chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, which is currently in its annual Cervical Screening Awareness Week: "it is the ideal time to provide tips, reminders, and signpost to support about the test,

"but work is needed all year round to tackle barriers and support more woman and people with a cervix to attend this potentially life-saving test."

Around 2,700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, of which 690 women die from the disease.