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Breast cancer screening programme review announced

Holyrood has announced a fundamental review of the Scottish Breast Screening Programme.

Breast screening: Government has announced review.
Breast screening: Government has announced review. STV

The Scottish Government has announced a fundamental review of the Scottish Breast Screening Programme.

It will examine the current programme, the pressures it faces and future options for delivery.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said the Scottish Breast Screening Programme "needs to adapt to meet current demand".

Women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for screening every three years, while those over 70 can refer themselves.

NHS Scotland's National Services Division will carry out the review, which is expected to take around a year, and will also look at technological advances and ways to increase participation and tackle health inequalities.

Mr 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.

"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: "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."

Jim Miller, director at NHS National Services Scotland, said the programme is "extremely successful".

He added: "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."

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