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National Services Division Commissioning for Scotland's Health

Breast Screening

The Scottish Breast Screening Programme (SBSP) is divided into 6 areas, North East, North, South West, West, East and South East Scotland. The 6 screening centres are based in Aberdeen, Inverness, Irvine, Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh. Each centre has a static base and provides the screening service to the outlying areas by mobile units.

Breast cancer is more common in women aged over 50 and the SBSP invites women aged between 50 and 70 years old for screening every three years. Women aged 71 and over are encouraged to attend through self referral to their local screening centre. For more public information on the Breast Screening Programme please click on the external link to the NHS Inform Screening Scotland Website and then link to the Breast Screening section.

Performance standards as at 31 March 2014 (data one year in arrears):

  • For the latest three-year period, the uptake rate for Scotland has fallen slightly from 73.5% in 2010-13 to 72.9% in 2011-14. The results for both periods exceed the minimum standard of >70%.
  • The uptake rate for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was 67.8% in 2011-14. All other NHS Boards achieved the attendance standard of >70% of women invited to a screening appointment.
  • Comparing three-year combined performance figures for those women aged 53-70 years with a previous screen within 5 years of attendance, the invasive cancer detection rate has increased from 5.7 per 1,000 women screened in the period 2005-08 to 6.8 in 2011-14.
  • In 2013/14, all but 1 of the 13 NHS Breast Screening Programme minimum performance standards were achieved and all but 2 of the 11 targets were met.

In 2013-14:

  • Over 1,450 cases of screen detected breast cancer were diagnosed in women of all ages.
  • Of these over 80% (1,255 cases) of cancers detected were invasive, of which over half were less than 15mm in size and unlikely to be detected by a physical examination.

The programme has undergone significant developments over the years; however, it was agreed necessary to undertake a formal review of the way the service was delivered to ensure that it could adapt to meet future challenges, and remain a sustainable high quality and equitable breast screening service for women aged 50 to 70 resident in Scotland, in the most clinically and cost effective way.

The review has now concluded and was presented to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing for approval.

The review was conducted by National Services Division and aimed to ensure the screening programme remained effective and sustainable given the need to:

  • Replace older analogue screening equipment with digital technology which will require a change in working practices
  • Recruit and retain sufficient, suitably trained staff for the service in the future
  • Continue to meet the new cancer waiting times targets of 62 days from referral to treatment.

A number of recommendations were made for future service delivery; with the intention of putting women at the heart of planning, and ensuring that the programme offers flexibility around screening appointments, whilst making optimal use of mammography assets.

Further information regarding the review can be found on the Breast Screening Review web page.

In October 2012, as part of the Detect Cancer Early initiative, the Cabinet Secretary announced funding to transform the programme from its current analogue equipment to digital mammography. Roll out is now taking place in Scotland and is planned to conclude in 2015.

Breast Screening Scotland contacts:

Contact details for the screening centres are available on the Scottish Breast Screening Centres page.

To contact members of NSD staff, please visit our staff contacts page.

Lucy Colquhoun, Senior Programme Manager

For useful information and links to other Breast Screening organisations, please click the Breast Screening information or the link to Breast Screening - other sources of information.