For many years breast centres across the country have struggled to provide a service for patients because of a severe shortage of the radiologists and radiographers – those who take the mammograms, read the images, and perform the scans and biopsies to diagnose the cancers. Now because of Coronavirus this problem has become even greater and unless we act now many women with breast cancer will have their diagnosis delayed and may as a result die.
Across the UK, 150 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every day and tragically 31 of them will lose their fight against the disease – that’s one every 45 minutes. It is the biggest cause of death in women aged 35 – 49. Although the incidence is increasing, the mortality from breast cancer has fallen by 44% in the last 30 years. This is in part due to breast screening and to patients being referred earlier by their GPs, together with improvements in diagnosis with the advent of new technologies. However, the future of breast services in the UK and the progress made in reducing breast cancer mortality are under threat as the number of breast radiologists and radiographers continues to decline.
The Academy has been established to develop new methods of training and promote careers in breast imaging. The NBIA will be based in the North West but aims to provide a national solution for this crisis. It has to date received £5 million from Health Education England to fund trainers and trainees, but to fully realise its potential a new building costing £7 million is needed in which to develop courses and deliver this training. To date £2.2 million has been pledged towards the build.
Demand for Breast Services
In the last 10 years, the number of women referred by their GPs to breast units has doubled, the breast screening service has increased by 24% and the incidence of breast cancer continues to rise. However, the imaging workforce of specialist breast radiologists, radiographers and breast clinicians continues to decline. This has resulted in closure of several breast centres, delays in breast screening and reduced space and training time available for trainees.
National Breast Imaging Academy – an innovative solution
A group of breast imaging professionals based at the Nightingale Breast Screening Centre in Manchester has developed new methods of training which will enhance the existing workforce.
The team has secured £5 million from Health Education England to:
- Support the development of new training schemes
- Fund trainers
- Fund trainees
- Develop new online training programmes
Although we have secured revenue funding, we desperately need capital funding for a building in which to deliver this training and therefore we need your help. The proposed site for the NBIA building is an extension to the Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT). The Nightingale Centre has been an NHS breast training centre for over 30 years and is one of the largest breast units in the country, treating around 1000 newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer each year – or four new patients with breast cancer each day. It provides a screening service for over 200,000 women. The NBIA will provide innovative clinical and academic training for apprentices, radiographers, radiologists and breast clinicians, together with medical students and administrative staff, in a fully resourced teaching environment.
Support for the Project
This project is supported by Prevent Breast Cancer, Public Health England, The Royal College of Radiologists, The Society of Radiographers, The Association of Breast Clinicians and a number of other charities across the country.