McArthur welcomes plans to re-start self-referral breast cancer screening

5 Aug 2022

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has called for more assurances to island communities ahead of plans to re-start of self-referrals to the breast screening programme for those aged 71 and over this autumn.

The Scottish Breast Screening Programme invites women aged between 50 and 70 years old for screening every three years. In rural and island communities, this is carried out using mobile screening units. Self-referrals to the programme by over 70s were paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to a letter from Mr McArthur, the Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, Maree Todd, confirmed plans to begin a phased re-instatement of self-referrals appointments from autumn 2022. These will initially be available for those between 71 and 74, along with those over 75 who have had a previous breast cancer diagnosis and have been discharged from yearly follow-up mammograms.

Orkney's MSP wrote to the Cabinet Secretary last month to reiterate concerns of island communities who depend on mobile screening units visiting every 3 years facing prolonged delays. In response, Ms Todd stated that the programme will offer "appointments at a range of regional venues".

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

"After two years since the pause was first implemented, it is welcome that plans are now underway to re-start self-referral appointments for over 70s in the coming weeks.

"This will offer some reassurance to those aged over 70 who have been understandably concerned throughout this prolonged pause, particularly for those with a family history of breast cancer.

"I have repeatedly called for measures to ensure that communities like Orkney that rely on mobile screening units visiting every 3 years will not face further delays as services return to normal. While the Minister has offered some reassurances, more detail is still needed on what this will mean in practice for women in Orkney.

"In the meantime, I would encourage anyone, no matter your age, concerned about possible symptoms of breast cancer to please speak with your GP."