Please be assured that the Government is committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are diagnosed with breast cancer as soon as possible. As part of the 2021 Spending Review, £2.3 billion was allocated to improve diagnostic capacity over the following three years. Through this investment, Community Diagnostic Centres are being established, which will be one-stop-shops for checks, scans and tests, helping those with suspected breast cancer to access earlier diagnostic tests closer to home.
I also fully recognise the urgency of Breast Cancer Now's campaign to increase the recovery and uptake of breast screening services.
Whilst services have begun to recover - with 2.06 million women screened in 2021-22 compared to 1.12 million in 2020-21 - I recognise there is much more progress to be made, particularly in regions like the North West, East Midlands and West Midlands where there has been low uptake.
The NHS’s Breast Screening Programme in England offers all women between the ages of 50 and 70 the opportunity to be screened every three years for breast cancer. These screenings play a key part in the early diagnosis of breast cancer, and preventing approximately 1,300 women dying each year.
I understand that several steps are being taken to improve breast cancer screening rates in the United Kingdom, including the use of text message alerts to remind women of upcoming appointments, and local and national media campaigns to raise awareness of the breast screening programme. Through the Women’s Health Strategy, £10 million funding has been provided to expand capacity for breast screening through the delivery of 29 new breast cancer screening units, 58 remote access upgrades and nearly 70 life-saving service upgrades.