GD31  Cervical Smear Campaign and Women's Health

Collection Summary

Reference Code: GB239 GD31
Title: Cervical Smear Campaign and Women's Health
Dates of Creation of Material: 1981-1992
Level of Description: Fonds
Extent and Medium of the Unit of Description: 1 shelf metre: papers, 1 VHS video


Name of creator(s): Cervical Smear Campaign; Scottish Women's Health Fair; Head On
Administrative History:
Cervical Smear Campaign, 1985-1991
In the early 1980s, because of public concern about several avoidable deaths from cervical cancer, a larger number of women began to go for cervical smears than had been catered for. Until then, the service had been largely opportunistic, in that women were not invited to have a smear on a regular basis. In July 1985, the Lothian Health Board put a freeze on smear tests because existing laboratory facilities were swamped with a backlog of 10,000 un-read slides.
In response to public concern about the freeze, Edinburgh District Local Health Council organised a public meeting, jointly with the Edinburgh District Council Women's Committee, in October 1985. The meeting was very well attended and an action group, the 'Cervical Smear Campaign' was formed. The campaign's aims were to pressurise Lothian Health Board to lift all restrictions on the cervical screening service in Lothian and to campaign for a fully comprehensive service in Lothian and Scotland.
In March 1986 a petition was launched which encapsulated the Campaign's aims. The petition demanded: a complete end to the freeze on smear testing; adequate funding so that all women could have a smear every three years; an efficient system of notifying women of the results of all smears with adequate follow-up for abnormal smears; and a full call and recall system to be set up by Lothian Health Board.
Public support for the campaign was massive in Lothian, Fife and the Borders and in July 1986, the petition was presented to Lothian Health Board with nearly 18,000 signatures. The Health Board agreed to look into the petition's demands and they invited a campaign representative to sit on their Cervical Screening Committee.
In September 1987, the Lothian Health Board announced that 3 yearly screening for women aged 20 and over, a computerised recall system, and automatic notification of all smear check results to women as well as their doctors, would be introduced in early 1988. And in May 1988, the Health Board launched its new screening service which provided 3 yearly screening, a system of notification of smear results and a computerised call and recall system.
In 1987 the campaign became national, joining with the Scottish Health Service Campaign. In November of that year, a second petition was launched nationally, demanding a full screening service across Scotland.
The campaign also worked extremely hard to inform women of the need for cervical screening and the work of the campaign. They gave talks to hundreds of women across the region; they produced information leaflets in the absence of any health education material; and with the Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust co-produced a video entitled 'Women's Health and Cervical Smears. The campaign succeeded in raising awareness and changing attitudes towards cervical cancer within the general public, the health board and the media.
Scottish Women's Health Fair, May 1983
The Scottish Women's Health Fair was held on 27th-29th May 1983. It was organised by a group of local women with the backing of the Scottish Health Education Group, and coincided with a conference on 'Women and Health' which was held in Peebles on 25-27th May (organised by the World Health Organisation (Europe) and the Scottish Health Education Group).
The Scottish Women's Health Fair aimed to take a wide-ranging look at factors affecting the health of women in Scotland and encouraged local participation and input from Women's organisations and groups across Scotland. The Fair took place at venues across Edinburgh, and involved stalls, exhibitions, workshops, displays, films and discussion groups etc.
Head On: A Women and Mental Health Project, 1982-1989
Head On was a women's mental health project, supported by the Scottish Association for Mental Health. It was set up as a core part of the Scottish Women's Health Fair, May 1983. The aims of the project group were: to help women become more responsible for their own well being and mental health; and to increase awareness of the politics of mental health for women.
The group met these aims by organising workshops and discussion groups; producing information leaflets; and giving talks. They also made the video 'Mad, Bad or Ill' with the Scottish Association for Mental Health; and were closely involved in the organisation of the 'Women Talking to Women' project.
Archival History: Records collected and held by Penny Richardson, founder member of the Cervical Smear Campaign
Immediate Source of Acquisition or Transfer: Penny Richardson, April 2003


Scope and Content: Cervical Smear Campaign 1981-1991; Scottish Women's Health Fair 1982-1984; Head On: Women and Mental Health Project 1982-1992
Accruals: No further accessions are expected
System of Arrangement: Chronological within record class


Conditions Governing Access: Access is subject to the terms of the UK Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
Conditions Governing Reproduction: Reproduction is subject to confidentiality, copyright and physical condition
Language/Scripts of Material: English

Archivists' Notes: Compiled by Rosie McLure and Jenny McDermott using existing handlists
Rules or Conventions: Description based on ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description International Council on Archives (2nd edition), 2000
Date(s) of Description: June 2005