Fewer people in Surrey completed cervical screenings last year, new figures show, as charities urge all those eligible to get tested.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said it will be challenging for the health service to achieve its goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2040 as cervical screening coverage continues to fall across England.
NHS England figures show just 70.8% of 344,874 eligible 25 to 64-year-olds in Surrey were adequately screened as of March 31.
It was down from 71.6% the year before, and below the target of 80%.
Nationally, 68.7% of eligible individuals aged 25 to 64 were adequately screened this year – a fall from 69.9% in 2022.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said it is "incredibly frustrating" to see targets missed for the 19th year in a row.
The charity added the NHS England’s recently announced goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2040 is "going to be challenging".
Martin Hunt, chief executive, said: "We understand that it’s not an easy appointment for everyone. It can sometimes be difficult to attend for a variety of reasons including work and childcare commitments, anxiety, and misinformation surrounding the test.
"But these tests are vital; they can prevent cancer."
The national decline in coverage was primarily driven by a fall in 24 to 49-year-olds being screened. This age group is invited for tests every three years.
In Surrey, 68.6% were screened as of March this year – a fall from 69.9% in 2022.
Of the eligible 50 to 64-year-olds in the area – who are invited every five years – 74.9% were tested as of this year. It was up from 74.7% the year before.
Nicola Smith, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "The cervical screening programme saves thousands of lives every year in the UK by preventing cancer and helping to stop the disease in its tracks.
"We encourage women and people with a cervix, such as trans men and non-binary people assigned female at birth, to take part."
She suggested people who find cervical screening uncomfortable ask for a longer time slot to speak about any concerns.
Steve Russell, NHS England chief delivery officer and national director for vaccinations and screening, said eliminating cervical cancer in the next two decades is possible, but relies on millions of people coming forward for tests and vaccinations.
He added: "The NHS is doing everything we can to achieve our ambition by making it as easy as possible to make appointments, with the latest figures showing the NHS arranged cervical screening for over 3.4 million women last year."