Health fears as mobile breast screening scrapped in three High Peak towns

A High Peak woman fears hundreds across the borough will cancel breast-screening appointments after rural mobile testing units were scrapped this month in Chapel-en-le-Frith, New Mills and Buxton.

By Ben McVay
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 12:30 pm

Helen Cochrane, 51, told how a testing vehicle used to pull up opposite her home - at Thornbrook Surgery.

However last week, when she received a letter inviting her to attend her first screening, she was shocked to learn she would have to travel 25 miles to Scarsdale Hospital, Chesterfield.

What would have been a ‘30-second’ walk across the road would now mean a 50-minute drive across the peaks.

Women over the age of 50 are currently offered breast screening every three years. Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images

Though Helen is able to drive she worries High Peak women who rely on public transport will face hours of travel on public transport and may cancel the vital health checks.

Mobile units had also been travelling to surgeries in New Mills and Buxton.

However Helen says it takes over an hour-and-half to get from Chapel to Chesterfield - changing buses at Buxton - and even longer from New Mills.

After ringing North Derbyshire Breast Screening Service Helen says she was told the mobile service had been cancelled because the units were not Covid-safe and the long-distance arrangement would be in place until at least next year.

The breast screening mobile is now at the Newholme Hospital, Bakewell, for High Peak women

She said: “I’ve not had a letter about this or seen anything on social media or in the paper - I’m quite surprised they’ve not said anything about it.

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“It seems like the High Peak has been forgotten about again but you’re talking about five or six hours of travel for a procedure which takes just a few minutes and people don’t seem to know about it.

“This will affect a lot of people and they obviously have their reasons but I’m worried people will put off going.”

Women over the age of 50 are currently offered breast screening every three years.

Helen has now been offered an appointment at a breast screening mobile unit at Bakewell’s Newholme Hospital for High Peak women - which is a shorter journey.

However she added a letter she received from North Derbyshire Breast Screening Service advised to ‘keep a safe distance from others and travelling by car, bike or walking if possible’.

There was no mention of travelling by public transport.

A spokesman for Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust told how there was a ‘very large’ back log of appointments following the suspension of the screening programme between March and July.

He added: “As part of the restoration and recovery plan it has been agreed that the breast screening mobile would be situated at the Newholme Hospital, Bakewell, to screen women in the High Peak area – this information has been shared with all relevant GP’s.

“This is a temporary measure to help restore the programme to its original state as the access at Bakewell means that we can work longer days and at weekends.

"We appreciate that we are asking women to travel for their screening appointment but we are working in unprecedented times and having considered other solutions this utilises the service to the best of our ability.

"If any women would like to change their appointment then please contact us on the phone number or email address given on the letter and we will strive to make alternative arrangements.”

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