This site is intended for UK healthcare professionals
Medscape UK Univadis Logo
Medscape UK Univadis Logo

'Shocking Disparity' in Scotland's Breast Screening Rates

Less than two-thirds of women from the poorest areas are attending for routine breast screening, new figures show, with concerns raised about the "shocking disparity in access to care".

Labour’s Carol Mochan is demanding a meeting with women’s health minister Jenni Minto amid fears that some of the "most vulnerable women in our society" are missing out on screening. She made the call after the most recent figures showed 62.7% of women from the most deprived areas attended for screening, compared to 81.5% of those in the least deprived communities.

Data for the 3-year period from 2019 to 2022 showed 699,869 women were invited for screening, with 521,237 attending their appointment – meaning almost three-quarters (74.5%) of eligible women took part in the programme.

Less Women from Poorer Areas Screened

All of Scotland's health boards met the Scottish Government's "acceptable uptake standard" of having 70% of women attend over the 3 years – the first time this has happened since the period 2008 to 2011. But Labour women's health spokeswoman, Ms Mochan, raised concerns about the number of women from poorer areas who have failed to come forward.

"Eradicating health inequalities ought to be a vital mission of any government, but under the SNP this mission has stagnated," Ms Mochan said. "There is still a shocking disparity in access to care between the richest and poorest across Scotland.

"SNP inaction on this issue has seen targets missed and the most vulnerable women in our society missing out on vital care."

With Michael Matheson having taken over as Health Secretary following Humza Yousaf's election to the role of First Minister, and Ms Minto being appointed Women’s Health Minister, the Labour MSP added: "There is no better time to come together to tackle this problem head-on.

"We must work across party lines to tackle this issue and ensure that the legacy of SNP failure does not continue to harm vulnerable women."

The latest figures, published by Public Health Scotland, show screening detected 1830 breast cancer cases in women of all ages in 2021-22. This is up 824 on the 2020-21 total, when the breast screening programme was temporarily paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.