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Giving local people a voice on health and social care services in County Durham

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Learning from women’s experiences of breast screening


According to recent figures, almost one in four women in County Durham do not attend breast screening when invited to do so. Regular breast screening can help identify breast cancer early – and the earlier the condition is found, the better the chances of surviving it. So, we’ve been trying to find out what is stopping some women getting screened to see if we can help reduce any barriers.

We gathered views and experiences of breast screening from more than 450 women in the region and you can read our full report and recommendations. Women told us the reasons they didn’t get screened included not getting an appointment letter; being embarrassed or frightened, and the venue or time being inconvenient. Some found the service inaccessible due to disability and many were confused about what age range women could be screened. Many said a different venue or appointment date/time would have made them more likely to attend.

From these responses we have made several recommendations to improve uptake of screening and will share these with local service providers and commissioners. These include that:

  • the process for making an alternative appointment date/time/venue must be simple
  • information on what to expect should be given to first-time patients
  • commissioners must ensure services are accessible to all eligible women, including women with disabilities
  • service providers should ensure women reaching the age of 70 are given information about being eligible to self-refer directly to a local breast screening unit once they stop getting automatic invitations to attend

Read the full report and recommendations.


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Next event

Healthwatch County Durham Board Meeting will take place on 13 Aug 2019