Thousands of women will be given DIY smear tests to do at home in a bid to boost screening uptake.
The NHS will dish out more than 31,000 home kits in London, which will allow women to perform the potentially life-saving check at home for the first time.
It is hoped the pilot will encourage women who are too embarrassed to have the test conducted by a health professional at a GP surgery or health centre.
If successful, health professionals say it could soon be rolled out nationally.
The tests – which look for strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) responsible for 99 per cent of cases of cervical cancer – will be posted to women aged 25-64 who are 15 months overdue for a check.
The NHS’s screening programme invites all women over the age of 25 for regular swabs, starting at one appointment every three years and then decreasing to once every five years for over-50s.
Although the HPV vaccine, brought into use in 2008, is expected to all but eliminate the virus from Britain in the coming generations, women who turned 12 before then may still be at risk from the virus…