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Delivering a more ambitious screening programme in Scotland

On May 14th, Public Health Scotland published data on how the Scottish Breast Screening Programme performed from 2022 to 2023. In this post, we explore the breast screening situation in Scotland and how we’re encouraging the Scottish Breast Screening Programme to be more ambitious.

What does the data say?

Since 2008, Scotland’s Breast Screening Programme has consistently met the 70% acceptable target for the uptake of breast screening. The recently published data shows that 75.6% of women in Scotland took up their routine breast screening appointments between April 2022 and March 2023. This is compared to only 64.6% of women in England.

What’s the issue in Scotland?

While overall uptake is above the 70% acceptable target, we know that people from specific areas and communities are much less likely to attend regular breast screening appointments.

Today’s data reveals that only 64.2% of women from the most deprived areas of Scotland attended their breast screening appointment between 2020 and 2023. To compare, 82.8% of women from the least deprived areas attended. This variation reveals uneven access to screening across health boards.

What are we planning to do?

We want Scotland to be more ambitious and reach its achievable target of 80% of women attending breast screening. To achieve this, we must reduce the gap in uptake across all groups who are less likely to attend screening.

To increase screening uptake in Scotland and reduce long-standing health inequalities, we’ll be working to implement the Equity in Screening Strategy commitments and the recommendations of the 2021 Major Review of Breast Screening. As members of the Breast Screening Modernisation Board, we’ll be making sure that this work increases access to screening for underserved groups and that any changes are futureproof.

We’ve also published a consensus statement on health inequalities within breast screening. It sets out our collective view of how breast cancer screening can become inclusive and accessible across the UK. This year, we’ll be putting this into practice in Scotland’s Breast Screening Programme. We’ll also be looking at specific challenges that different communities in Scotland face.

How can you get involved?

People affected by breast cancer are at the heart of everything we do. We want you to get involved and share your experience of accessing the Scottish Breast Screening Programme.

Sign up to our Breast Cancer Voices bulletin to find out how you can get involved. Make sure you’re also following our Changemakers Facebook group. We use this social media channel to let you know about opportunities to get involved in our campaigns and share more about what’s going on where you are.

Become a Breast Cancer Voice

Sign up to our Voices bulletin to inform and shape our work. By sharing your insights and expertise, you’ll help guide our policy and campaigns work in Scotland.

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