Thousands of women in Scotland wait for weeks to find out if they are affected by breast cancer due to the negligence of the Scotland's screening services in meeting the basic deadlines - a report says. Most affected were the women from east of Scotland, where one quarter of those tested did not receive their results within the set timescale.
The areas covering Tayside and Fife admitted the delay as a usual practice and also blamed some of its delay on staff leaves. The report was released yesterday covering six-breast cancer screening services across the country and found that they had achieved the national standard of at least 70 per cent uptake. Four services exceeded more than 75 per cent uptake.
'National Standards' - say that 15 working days is the maximum time it should take for women to receive their results in 95 per cent of cases, but the target is to return test results within ten working days.
The NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (NHS QIS) survey 2006 shows none of the services achieved this target for 2006. The survey has also found out that nearly 15 per cent of women in the north region, which covers Inverness and the Northern Highlands, did not receive their results within 15 working days. The west of Scotland service also missed the 95 per cent target just by 0.5%.
Lorraine Dallas, the assistant director of Breast Cancer Care Scotland, said: 'From talking to women with breast cancer, we know that the time spent waiting for results can be very stressful. We would want all women to receive the findings of their mammogram within the 15-day target.'
'Extending the screening age range from 65 to 70 has had a positive impact, raising awareness that breast cancer risk increases with age. However, we would also encourage all women over 70 to self refer for screening.'
The report said that the media had played a very important role for the increase in uptake by highlighting the dangers of the disease.
The Scottish Breast Screening Programme screens approximately 140,000 women a year, and each year about 3,600 breast cancers are diagnosed, of which about 1,000 are from screening alone.
Shona Robison the SNP health spokeswoman welcomed the progress but said the screening age should be lowered. 'The SNP would like to see screening programmes extended which is why next year an SNP government will begin to introduce a programme for screening for women over 40, not just 50.
To conclude: 'There is still improvement to be made in waiting times for breast cancer as one in eight patients still fail to meet the two-month waiting target.' - said the report.