Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed news that plans are in place for breast screening appointments to restart safely from 3 August after being paused due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Anyone who was invited for a breast screening appointment before the pause in March, who was unable to attend for any reason or had an appointment cancelled will receive a letter in the coming weeks.

There will be no change to the screening test itself, however additional measures have been introduced to allow breast screening to take place in a safe environment. 

Staff will wear necessary personal protective equipment and appointments will be staggered to ensure waiting areas are quieter, allowing staff and patients to adhere to physical distancing.

The SNP MSP said: “I’m aware that the pause in this service will have been a cause for concern for many who have not been able to receive a breast cancer screening. The Scottish Government have had to make a number of difficult decisions since March to preserve public health and reduce strain on the NHS.

“I’m delighted that the breast screening service will now be able to resume and urge everybody who receives a letter in the coming weeks to attend their rescheduled appointments.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The continued efforts we are making to limit the spread of the virus have allowed us to restart the national breast screening programme in line with expert clinical advice and the recommendations of the Scottish Screening Committee, as part of the planned safe and incremental remobilisation of NHS Scotland.

“The safety of patients and staff will continue to be our priority as all of the national screening programmes restart and expand. I want to reassure you that we are taking these precautions so that we can safely offer the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

More information on the national screening programme is available on NHS Inform.

Breast cancer screening invitations will slowly start to resume from 13 July however we would ask for people to be patient as it will take some time to fully restore the service.

  • Anyone who was invited for cervical screening before the pause in March and was yet to make an appointment or had it cancelled was able to make an appointment from 29 June.
  • Cervical screening appointment invitations and reminders will also start to be posted in the week beginning 13 July, with invitations sent first to those who receive more frequent (non-routine) appointments. Routine screening will restart once NHS Scotland has caught up with non-routine appointments affected by the pause.
  • Higher risk participants on the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) and Diabetic Retinopathy Screening (DRS) programmes began to receive appointments from 6 July.
  • NHS Boards are resuming bowel screening colonoscopies and appointments will be clinically prioritised.

Updates on public health advice for COVID-19 can be found on NHS Inform, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816.  If patients have any concerns they should contact 999 for emergencies or 111 for any urgent requests.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should now contact the NHS to arrange to be tested – either online at NHS Inform, or by calling 0800 028 2816.