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No appointments in Stratford available as 26,000 women waiting for breast screening appointments in Warwickshire



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THE lack of breast screening appointments in the Stratford district puts lives at risks said charity Cancer Research UK.

NHS backlogs are at an all-time high at the moment and there are 26,000 women waiting for breast screening appointments in the county.

The Herald was contacted by Stratford district councillor Sarah Whalley-Hoggins (Brailes and Compton, Con) who was left furious after being told there simply were no appointments available, despite being contacted to book one.

Sarah explained: “I was sent a letter saying my mammogram appointment was due. But when I rang to book last week I was told there were no appointments available, and that the mobile unit was only here until 30th November and so I was told to go to Rugby, Kenilworth, Coventry or Solihull.”

Caption: Breast Care Unit. Radiographer looking at breast scans on a lightboard/ display. Holding magnifying glass. Mammogram, mammograph, mammography. Breast Screening. Imaging. Restrictions: NHS Photo Library - for use in NHS, local authority Social Care services and Department of Health material only Copyright: ©Crown Copyright (41875300)
Caption: Breast Care Unit. Radiographer looking at breast scans on a lightboard/ display. Holding magnifying glass. Mammogram, mammograph, mammography. Breast Screening. Imaging. Restrictions: NHS Photo Library - for use in NHS, local authority Social Care services and Department of Health material only Copyright: ©Crown Copyright (41875300)

She continued: “They were very polite but it’s basically suck it up, sunshine. I’m so astounded. This matters, so many women have put health checks on hold through Covid. And now all those
women think ‘oh I’ll just put it off again until the unit is back in Stratford’, and that’s a worry, there could be real consequences.

“I’m just appalled. Someone somewhere needs to do something, it’s just not good enough.”

The fear that lives will be lost as a result of the lack of accessible screening appointments was echoed by Cancer Research UK.

Cllr Sarah Whalley-Hoggins (44568453)
Cllr Sarah Whalley-Hoggins (44568453)

Director Emlyn Samuel told the Herald: “It’s incredibly worrying and highlights the capacity challenges faced, especially ahead of what will be a tough winter for the NHS and its hardworking staff.

“Urgent clarity from government is needed on how additional money promised to the NHS will support cancer service recovery and sort chronic staff shortages. And as we approach the pressures of winter, NHS leaders must ensure protecting cancer services remains a clinical priority. We’re already facing the possibility that cancer survival could go backwards – people with cancer can’t afford any further disruption. Lives are at stake.”

A spokesperson for Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull Breast Screening Service said: “Our priority is always to deliver the best possible care to all of our patients and we are continuously adapting our services to achieve this.

“Inevitably the pandemic has had an impact on how long some are waiting for screening, with the service paused for four months nationally. We understand this has been frustrating and we are restoring services as safely and efficiently as possible.

“Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated teams we are seeing more than 1,000 women a week, reducing the waiting list from 55,000 to 26,000. We are currently on track to clear the rest of the backlog by March 2022, the national target for all services.

“During the restoration phase we have moved to an open invitation for women to call us to book their appointment and we would encourage everyone to do so as soon as they receive a letter. We do our best to offer an option in their local community where possible.

“We have had two mobile units in South Warwickshire to help screen as many as possible. Some of the locations previously used are no longer available to us, but we are constantly looking for suitable sites as part of our restoration efforts. The mobile units do have to keep moving around Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull as part of our service.

“We would like to thank members of the public and our communities for their ongoing patience and support. All women are encouraged to continue to be breast aware and to contact their GP if they notice anything different.”



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