Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
In my statement on 3 May I informed Assembly Members that in light of the issues affecting the English breast screening programme, and given that the breast screening programme in Wales is on the same IT platform as England, Public Health Wales would be reviewing the Breast Test Wales screening programme as a precaution. The review against the issues as described by England is now complete and I am pleased to inform Members that Public Health Wales has concluded that the system issues affecting England do not apply in Wales. While the same IT platform is used in Wales it is administered in a different way in Wales and against different age parameters.
I also referred to their being groups of women currently resident in Wales who are potentially affected by the issues relating to the English programme, primarily as a result of having previously accessed England’s programme. Public Health England and NHS Digital are working closely with Public Health Wales to identify this cohort. Those affected by this issue should be contacted by the English screening programme by the end of May. Public Health Wales will work with Public Health England to ensure any necessary catch-up screening will be offered locally by Breast Test Wales. Women in Wales who are concerned they may have missed an appointment because they previously lived in England are able to call the England helpline on 0800 169 2692.
Having confirmed that our programme is not affected by the issues identified in England, Public Health Wales is now undertaking a further review of their systems and procedures to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place to call all eligible women in Wales for their final breast screening.
Breast screening reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer. In 2016-17, a total of 1,185 cancers were detected in the 123,000 women who were screened. Women in Wales aged between 50 and 70 are invited for breast screening every three years and are urged not to ignore their screening invitation. Women who are aged 70 years and older are able to self refer for screening. Public Health Wales runs seven national screening programmes in Wales and I would encourage anyone eligible for these programmes to take up the offer. Further information is available on the Public Health Wales website.