In the news today, it has been revealed the UK’s breast cancer screening services are under strain. Breast Cancer Now highlighted that the number of women not being screened for breast cancer ‘rose by 50 per cent’. The ongoing effects of the pandemic and staff shortages are putting a strain on breast screening services nationally. It is now reported that there is a staggering 1.5 million women who have not been screened.
We drew attention to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on breast screening services back in July last year with an update from Dr Mary Wilson, consultant breast radiologist here at The Nightingale Centre. She detailed how women across the country had appointments delayed due to the restrictions in place and discussed the need for further investment in the national screening programme.
BREAST SCREENING SERVICES
Following today’s news, we asked Prevent Breast Cancer Trustee and Consultant Radiologist, Dr Mary Wilson, for a comment on the challenges breast screening services are facing.
“The biggest challenge to fixing the screening backlog and expanding breast services is the workforce shortage. Recognising this, we have established the National Breast Imaging Academy (NBIA) which is funded by Health Education England and hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. Over the last three years it has worked collaboratively with breast training centres across the country, who, despite the pressures of the pandemic, have continued to prioritise training wherever possible.
“Significant progress has been made, with over 120 new mammography associates now in training and the establishment of 50 new medical training posts. However, to provide sustainable breast centres and staffing levels for the future, ongoing investment is required to support additional trainees and their clinical trainers.”
As a charity, one of our key areas of focus is investment into smarter screening and the importance of screening in detecting breast cancer at its earliest stage.