Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
Yesterday’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP about the breast screening issues in England is very concerning.
I would like to reassure women in Wales that this issue is predominantly one that affects England. Women aged 50 to 70 who are resident in Wales and registered with a GP are invited for a mammogram every three years. Once women turn 70 they can self-refer for screening by contacting the screening programme.
In light of the issues affecting the English programme, and given that the breast screening programme in Wales is on the same IT platform as England, Public Health Wales is urgently reviewing the Welsh breast screening programme to ensure all eligible women are invited for screening. I will provide a further update when this further work is complete.
There are also three potential groups of women affected by the English system who may now be resident in Wales:
- Women registered with English GPs in border areas of Wales and attending English screening services may be affected in the same way as English women.
- Some women who should have been invited in their 70th year by England may now be living in Wales and be locally registered.
- Women who may have been registered on the system but where subsequent follow up was lost.
It is not possible to quantify these groups currently but the total combined affected population for Wales and the other devolved administrations is thought to be very small.
Public Health England has set up a free helpline for women who might be affected on: 0800 169 2692.
I expect an update from Public Health Wales shortly and will provide another statement to update Members when that is received.