‘Fundamental’ review of breast screening announced

Ongoing health inequalities, increasing participation & advances in technology to be considered during year-long review of services

Wednesday 31th July 2019

A comprehensive review of the Scottish breast screening programme is to take place, the Scottish Government has said.

A ‘comprehensive appraisal of the current programme, current pressures and future options for delivery’ is to be carried out, including looking at advances in technology and ways to increase participation and address health inequalities.

While informing the Scottish Parliament of the review, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick, said: “The Scottish Breast Screening Programme needs to adapt to meet current demand.

The number of women eligible for screening is growing – some 800,000 women were eligible over the 2018-2021 period – and the programme needs to be able to keep pace with the increasing population and changes in technology and lifestyles.

I also know the programme can be complex to administer with mobile screening units working around the country. We need to look at ways to free up workforce pressure and develop solutions to encourage participation and tackle health inequalities.

This is why we have approved a review which will look at everything from invitation processes, technology and future requirements which will ensure that breast screening continues to support early diagnosis of breast cancer.

The review, which is expected to take around a year, will be carried out by National Services Division (NSD), a part of NHS National Services Scotland, which commissions and coordinates the programme.

The review’s conclusions will be submitted to the Scottish screening committee which will then advise government ministers on how to take forward any recommendations.

Jim Miller, director at NHS National Services Scotland, said:

The Scottish breast screening programme continues to be extremely successful. Regular screening offers women the best chance of having breast cancer detected at an early stage and surviving.

Significant changes have been made to the programme since it first began in 1988 and this review will allow us to make recommendations for continued improvements to the programme.

As the number of women eligible for screening continues to increase, this review comes at the perfect time and offers real opportunities to future-proof the service for women attending for screening, as well as the workforce who do such a fantastic job.”