Biggar was not kept abreast 
of unit moving

Biggar Community Council feels the decision to move breast cancer screening from Biggar to Lanark is putting women at risk.

Scottish Breast Screening Programme's mobile unit

NHS Lanarkshire announced on October 6 that the mobile breast cancer screening unit which was due to visit the town from Friday until December would, instead, be located in Lanark.

In prior years visits to Biggar the breast screening unit is located in either the health centre car park or outside the Corn Exchange.

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The community council also queried why other areas such as Kello Hospital, the Municipal Hall or the Showground could not have been used.

A spokeswoman for Biggar Community Council said: “We are very concerned about this decision, which was announced with very little notice before the start of the screening programme.

“The breast cancer screening programme is targeted at older ladies who are therefore more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19.

“Not everyone has their own car so hundreds of vulnerable ladies have to make the choice between making a risky journey to Lanark or not getting screened.

“In addition to the increased health risks from having to travel to Lanark, making this journey adds about an hour to the time needed to attend an appointment.

“This means that ladies who are still working have to take more time off in order to be screened, costing the economy money at a time when it can ill-afford it.”

She continued “It is disappointing that NHS Lanarkshire did not contact Biggar Community Council before making the decision to relocate this screening, as we could have helped them to identify another location in Biggar that meets their requirements.

“Despite the difficulties in accessing the screening Biggar Community Council do urge all ladies who are invited to be screened to do so if at all possible, as it is a quick and simple procedure which could save your life.”

NHS Lanarkshire says the decision of where the screening unit would be located was out of its hands.

Craig Cunningham, of South Lanarkshire Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “The West of Scotland Breast Screening Service, managed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, is responsible for selecting the location of the mobile breast screening units. NHS Lanarkshire does not make the decision.”

NHSGCC claims it hasn’t had access to the health centre site for many years, but apologised for not consulting local groups and will aim to change this in the future.

A spokesperson said: “Until six years ago we had permission for the mobile breast screening unit to be situated within the local health centre site.

“Unfortunately this is no longer available to us and we have been unable to identify another suitable site in Biggar for the unit to be situated.

“The West of Scotland Breast Screening Service has been working closely with NHS Lanarkshire’s Public Health team on planning where the unit should be located taking into account a number of factors including access roads to accommodate the size of the unit, public facilities for staff and ensuring the women attending feel comfortable with where the unit is situated, and nothing was suitable.

“We are sorry that Biggar Community Council were not included in discussions on where the unit should go. We can only apologise and ensure that local groups are consulted next time the unit is due to be in the area.”