Committed staff working in partnership across different medical disciplines are celebrating after being deemed the second most successful unit nationally in meeting Screening targets.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s Breast Unit provides breast screening services for patients in Teesside, parts of County Durham and parts of north Yorkshire as well as symptomatic breast services for all of Teesside.
NHS England has ranked the service at number two in the country for reaching what is called it’s ‘round length’ as well as consistently meeting other screening targets.
Round length is the targeted period of 36 months when eligible women should be offered their consecutive routine screening appointments. The target requires the Breast Screening service to provide an appointment to each eligible woman within 36 months of their last screening mammogram.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a significant backlog in screening appointments – a backlog which was cleared by March this year. The team did not rest, continuing its effective partnership working model to ensure that all eligible women also remained on course for their next screening mammogram within the required 36 months.
Amanda Firby, breast screening and symptomatic services manager, said: “Our team, comprising of admin, clinical and managerial staff, has worked flat out since screening appointments began again.
“They worked extra hours and improved the speed of each appointment to clear the backlog, all while maintaining COVID-safe practices. The fact that only a few months after clearing the appointment backlog, we are back on target for offering routine screening appointments to clients screened 36 months ago, is extraordinary.
“I’m so proud of them all and just thrilled to be ranked so highly in the country.”
Lead breast radiologist and director of breast screening, Dr Anuradha Anand said:
“This service is real partnership work in action.
“The breast screening team perform and assess mammograms, with any lady with an “abnormal” result called back for further investigation.
“The screening team then carry out further assessments using imaging and biopsies which are examined by our colleagues in the pathology service. If the biopsies reveal a cancer, we refer the patient to the surgical team.
“Our breast care nurses form a support system for the patient throughout their whole journey. They are there for our patients for any queries along the way.
“We’re all very proud that that NHS England and the screening commissioners have commended us so highly.”
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust breast screening team encourages all women to attend their routine screening appointments regularly so that small cancers can be detected early and treated effectively. Also to check their breasts between screening appointments and to report any changes or lumps to their GP straight away. The sooner investigation into a lump can begin, the more effective the available treatment options are.