Longer appointment times, physical distancing, additional cleaning of equipment, a one-way system and masks are just some of the new safety precautions introduced as breast screening services return to Teesside and parts of Co. Durham.
Our Breast Screening Unit will resume its vital services from Monday 13 July.
The first breast screening team in the north to resume services, the North Tees Breast Unit offers approximately 55,000 screening appointments every year, diagnosing approximately 300 to 340 women with small, usually very effectively treatable cancers.
The service operates from 14 community locations across the Tees Valley and parts of Co. Durham.
Routine screening aims to find cancers before any physical symptoms are experienced. The early diagnosis of cancers leads to an increased chance of successful recovery and less chance of requiring mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) or chemotherapy.
North Tees breast screening services were halted on 30 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, women who experienced symptoms or signs of breast cancer were still able to access full services, including diagnostics and surgery if required. Screening for people at high risk also continued to be offered.
Dr Anuradha Anand, Director of Breast Screening at North Tees, said: “There will have been delays in diagnoses, but by their definition screened cancers are discovered when they are very small.
“We’ll have a backlog of appointments but we are confident that we can still successfully treat the majority of cancers that are discovered.
“We started our recovery plan the day we had to stop services. We have introduced several safety measures throughout our diagnostic and treatment pathway and this is why NHS England have had the confidence to allow us to begin our services again.
“We’re asking all our patients to work with us and follow our new procedures so we can ensure the safety of everyone, both patients and staff, while we carry out our services during an appointment.”
Women are advised that they do not need to contact the Trust to make an appointment. Appointment letters will be posted as routine, including anyone who would have expected to have been invited for a scan in-between March and July.
Women attending are a scan are asked to:
- follow the social distancing rules
- arrive on time (no more than 5 minutes early) – late arrival may result in being turned away
- be prepared to wait outside the screening venue if necessary
- attend alone – any patient who requires support is asked to call 01642 624261 on receipt of their appointment letter
- follow our request for infection control measures and wear a face covering