WOMEN are being encouraged to book smear tests with an offer of a free bikini wax.

The Rectory salon in Grays is urging women to book the tests after figures show the number of women having the tests is at an all time low.

Shelley Jackson, 36, owner of The Rectory said: "I heard on the news that the rates for getting tested are the lowest they’ve been for 20 years.

“I know that by providing this service, it won’t miraculously make everybody go and take their test, but it might encourage some who are anxious or embarrassed by the procedure to pluck up the courage and go get checked. Cost shouldn’t be a barrier to making sure you’re healthy so we’re happy to help out for free, providing you can prove you have an upcoming test booked!”

A total of 220,000 British women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year and there were 854 deaths from cervical cancer in England in 2016.

A survey of 2,017 women by the charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust suggested young women were embarrassed to attend smear tests because of their body shape, the appearance of their vulva and concerns over smell.

A third said they would not go if they had not waxed or shaved their bikini area.