This article is from Alison’s weekly column for the Wirral News. This is her post from 9th May, and it can be read on the Wirral News website here.
Last week, colleagues and I from across the house gathered to take part in a debate on the case of Sophie Jones, the young woman who so tragically died of cervical cancer, which took too long to diagnose.
Over 300,000 people signed an e-petition to see this debate on the floor of the House of Commons, the largest number ever to do so.
I am pleased that yet again, people in Merseyside are getting involved and making our Parliament more democratic, by saying what they want on the agenda.
There are approximately 3,000 cases of cervical cancer in the United Kingdom every year, and cases in women under 25 account to about 2.6 cases in every 100,000 women examined.
Deaths are even rarer, but none less tragic as this and similar cases show. Cases where women have felt something was wrong, but unable to get treatment until it was too late.
It is vital that there is a culture change within the NHS that recognises that young women, armed with appropriate education and information are able to make informed choices that will affect their bodies.
I know that those who work in the NHS will agree with me that it is important to respect and listen to all patients, especially younger women, who too easily dismissed in wider society.
Aside from raising the specific issues of cases where diagnosis has been much too slow, I hope that our debate has also served another purpose: to highlight the symptoms of the disease, and the importance of attending screening tests like smear tests if invited.
It was especially good to hear my male colleagues speaking confidently about women’s health matters -; after all they are brothers, fathers, husbands and friends to women, and we should talk openly about these conditions to deal with any past stigmas.
The minister responding to our debate listened to all the points raised, and has said that she will work with GPs and others to improve the awareness amongst professionals of the disease and its symptoms.
Because it is rare in young girls, GPs are unlikely to see cases, so hopefully our debate and the media coverage will heighten their awareness too.
Sophie said she would ‘fight all the way to the end’ and now we must fight for her and all others affected to stop this disease taking more lives.