Healthwatch Essex have launched a film produced in collaboration with their Trauma Ambassador Group showing the impact a cervical screening can have on those who live with the effects of trauma.

With nearly 1 in 3 people not attending their cervical screening appointments, the Healthwatch Essex Trauma Ambassador Group (TAG) recognised a need for sharing the unique challenges that trauma survivors may experience. Working with the group, Healthwatch Essex produced a short film in a clinical environment to demonstrate the trigger-points for trauma survivors and educate professionals on how appointments can be improved to make patients more comfortable.

Staff at Beacon House in Colchester kindly provided the space for an ambassador to walk through the process of a cervical screening appointment with a nurse, Michelle, demonstrating a number of trigger-points within an appointment, ranging from the language used, to the setup of the room and the often rushed feel of an appointment. One of the main suggestions for trauma survivors from the ambassadors included holding and using the Healthwatch Essex Trauma Card.

Della is a member of the Trauma Ambassador Group. She was instrumental in the creation of the film, and features in it: “Too often women are given scare tactics around cervical screening “you could die” type comments and data. We know that already. We need to be heard and supported and have trauma informed clinics available or a Trauma Card that is understood by practitioners.”

Sharon Westfield-de-Cortez, Healthwatch Essex Information and Guidance Manager, created the Trauma Ambassador Group. She said: “We understand that everyone is unique, and that other factors may influence people’s feelings around the screening process, such as having experienced domestic abuse or female genital mutilation, and that these can create additional barriers. We would encourage anyone in this situation to contact the surgery or clinic they will be accessing to request a conversation about this prior to the procedure, so that they can ask the questions you need to and receive appropriate reassurance. It’s important that trauma survivors remain engaged with health services to receive the care that they need and are entitled to.”

The full film, titled “Cervical Screening as a Trauma Survivor”, is available to watch here.