A DENTAL practice is marking its fifth year of offering employees paid leave so they can attend their smear test appointments.

Queensway Dental, which has practices in Billingham and Jesmond originally introduced the incentive as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (17th – 23rd January) back in 2017 and have continued to offer employees paid leave, so they can attend not only cervical screenings but any cancer screening.

Recent research from charity, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, reveals that shows that cervical screening (smear tests) prevents around 75% of cancers from starting, as the screening identifies those who are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

New data has found that only one in five full-time workers were able to get a convenient cervical screening appointment last time they tried to book, with many forced to use annual leave, take a sick day, or even take unpaid time off to get their smear test.

This has lead to concerns from the charity that inability to get appointments around work is causing many to delay potentially lifesaving screening.

Colette Meek, HR manager at Queensway Dental which employs 95 women amongst its 124 members of staff, said: “We recognised that although these tests are important and potentially life-saving many were struggling to fit their appointment around their work and busy lives, causing some to put it off.

“The health and wellbeing of Queensway’s staff is our priority and so we decided to offer paid leave for those who needed to attend any cancer screening. This incentive is now in its fifth year and we are pleased to be able to play our part in helping to eliminate cancer in young women.”