CAMPERDOWN nurse Beth Royal’s commitment to preventing female-specific cancers in the wider community has earned her this year’s Primary Health Care Nurse Excellence Award.

Based at the Robinson Street Medical Centre, Mrs Royal received the Western Victoria Primary Health Network award in Geelong last week.

“I had no idea I was being presented with an award, I just attended the evening to support a colleague,” she said.

“This award reflects a team effort from the entire Robinson Street Medical Centre, from the top down.

“Dr (John) Menzies had the foresight to sign up for a Cervical Screening Collaborative that was happening in various regions across Victoria, and the rest of the staff jumped on board.”

Mrs Royal said the aim of the collaborative was to investigate ways to increase the number of female clients having cervical screenings done.

The collaborative coincided with new national guidelines being introduced which extended screenings from every two years to every five years, being carried out on women over the age of 25 instead of currently from 18 and the focus being placed more on the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is the forerunner to cervical cancers.

“Because all of our registrars and clinicians had to update on the new requirements, it was the perfect time to go the next step and look at how we can encourage more females to get tested,” Mrs Royal said.

The collaborative process saw Mrs Royal conduct a review of the clinic’s current cervical screening processes, identify patients who were under-screened, revamp marketing and education systems and implement one-on-one phone calls with patients with regard to the need for screenings.

“It worked really well – we had a 10 per cent increase in just six months and we’re continuing to build on that,” she said.

“Cervical cancers take about 20 years to establish, but if we focus on the HPV cells we have a better chance of finding changes in cells, which can lead to cancer, much earlier.

“That then means the cells in question can be removed simply and easily before they develop into cancer.”

Patients are reminded that all sexually active women will have HPV at some stage.

“There are no symptoms and the body usually clears it through its own normal immune system, so people should not assume they have never had it,” Mrs Royal said.

Mrs Royal has been the practice nurse at the Robinson Street Medical Clinic for 17 years and was thrilled with the award.

“The biggest honour was the fact that my colleagues here thought enough of the program and the work done to nominate me in the first place,” she said.

“The award itself is really for everyone here, because everyone was involved at some level.”

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