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Breast-screening in Northants is up to date thanks to extra work done by hospital teams

MR1321 Breast Screening Team picture NGH - Copy (1)

The Northampton General Hospital breast screening team

The breast screening teams at Kettering and Northampton general hospitals have succeeded in catching-up on appointment backlogs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It means that more than 90% of women in Northamptonshire have been offered an appointment for screening within three years if they are aged 50-70. This is in line with the national standard for recovery and means women can expect their screening appointment to be on time. 

Breast screening units across the country were paused nationally between March and June 2020 because of the impact of COVID-19. 

This meant all breast screening units – including KGH and NGH – had appointment slots they needed to catch-up on in order to ensure that all women aged 50-70 had an appointment within three years.

As a result, since 2020, the two Trusts have had to carry out thousands of extra appointments to catch-up for the paused period – and to offset longer appointment times due to infection control precautions.

Breast Screening Programme Manager at Northampton General Hospital, Louise Ward, said: “This was a tremendous team effort and some of our staff have been working seven days a week and in the evenings to help us catch up.

“They have shown amazing dedication and done everything they can to make sure non-symptomatic women get their routine screening appointment every three years.

“I can’t thank them enough for the extra work this has involved.”

Breast Screening Programme Manager at Kettering General Hospital, Deborah Black, said: “It was an enormous challenge but we did everything we could to meet it. Our clinical and administrative staff worked extra bank shifts and have covered additional weekend work for two years to get our programme back on track.

“Their dedication and commitment to the Breast Screening Programme at Kettering has been inspirational, I can’t praise them enough.

“Some women now get an open invitation to come for screening and are able to book their appointment slot to ensure it is convenient. It is a very efficient way of working because it means people do not cancel as often and our screening sessions have all of the slots used up. We also provide timed appointments for some women to ensure that no appointment slots are wasted.”

Kettering General Hospital Chief Executive, Deborah Needham, said: “This will be reassuring news for women who are due for a breast-screening appointment. A lot of hard work has meant they will get their three-year routine appointments on time. I want to congratulate all of the staff involved for working so hard to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chief Executive at Northampton General Hospital, Heidi Smoult, said: “I am extremely proud of our breast screening team for this amazing recovery of the local programme. The whole team demonstrated an overwhelming dedication and went the extra mile to ensure that local women are screened as early as possible. This work will help detect early cancers and could save lives.”

Patients who are symptomatic – for example a woman who finds a breast lump and is referred to hospital by her GP – have been seen throughout the pandemic. Only routine screening for non-symptomatic patients was temporarily suspended in 2020.

Anyone who feels they may have missed out on an appointment can contact the breast screening unit at their local hospital to check.

Posted on Wednesday 25th May 2022
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