Review of Scottish Breast Screening Programme announced

Author: Caroline White
Review of Scottish Breast Screening Programme announced

A fundamental review of the Scottish Breast Screening Programme is to be carried out, public health minister Joe FitzPatrick has announced.

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

NSD will report its conclusions to the Scottish Screening Committee which in turn will then provide advice to ministers.

The review will include a comprehensive appraisal of the current programme, the current pressures it faces, and future options for delivery. It will also look at how advances in technology could be used as well as ways to increase uptake and tackle health inequalities.

Informing the Scottish Parliament of the plans earlier this week, public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “We know that breast screening saves lives and we want our programme to be as effective as possible. The Scottish Breast Screening Programme needs to adapt to meet current demand.”

He continued: “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.”

He added that the current programme could 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.”

This would ensure that breast screening continues to support early diagnosis of breast cancer, he said.

Jim Miller, director at NHS National Services Scotland, pointed out: “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 had been made to the programme since it first began in 1988, he said, but with increases in the number of women eligible for screening, the 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.”