Steve Brine brought a bill to Parliament this week which seeks increased uptake of NHS Breast Screening Programme appointments.
The NHS Breast Cancer Screening Bill looks to tackle the vast Covid backlog of missed appointments, highlight a large number of suspected undetected cases and extend eligibility of the programme to persons at an increased risk of breast cancer because of their family history.
It also seeks to implement recommendations made by former Cancer czar, Sir Mike Richards, around the collection of data and moving away from open invitations to timed slots offered by the screening programme.
The MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford served as Cancer Minister from 2017-2019 and co-chaired the All-Party Breast Cancer Group for the duration of the 2010-2015 Parliament.
Steve revealed his own personal experience at the outset of his speech; “Last weekend saw Mothering Sunday, and for many of our constituents that meant a time to catch up with Mum and maybe have lunch, go for a walk or buy some flowers. My little ones did that for my wife.
“For some, however, Sunday was not a day for lunch, or a walk, or a catch-up; there were flowers, but they were dropped off at the churchyard or the crematorium, as they are every year, and that group included me, as it has for the past 19 years.
“I was in my late 20’s, away on my stag do in Wales when I got a phone call very early in the morning to say I needed to get home - my Mum was in hospital by that point with only one outcome possible – and she passed away a few days later; five weeks before Susie and I got married. She was 52 years old.
“They say events – and life – before we enter this place shape how we approach some of our time here and they’re right. Constituents in Winchester & Chandler’s Ford know this is an issue I am passionate about. And now they know why.”
Uptake of breast screening has been falling over the last decade, but the disruption caused by the pandemic has accelerated this decline.
The breast screening programme was suspended between April 2020 and March resulting in 936,000 fewer women screened. As a result, NHS England’s own figures project some 9,000 people living with an undetected breast cancer.
“Given early diagnosis is cancer’s magic key, the potential consequences of that are obvious,” the MP said.
Steve Brine praised Hampshire Hospitals for its work in restarting the screening programme and efforts to catch-up on those missed. He added that will shorty visit Women's Services at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.
The second reading of Steve’s Bill will take place later in the Spring.