Just over six out of 10 women in Tayside’s most deprived areas are attending breast screening invitations, it has been revealed.
Statistics on attendance of the Scottish Breast Screening Programme show just a 65% uptake, rising to over 85% for women in the least deprived areas of the region.
Tayside’s 20 percentage point difference, which mirrors many other regions across Scotland, has led to calls from opposition parties for the screening programme to be urgently improved.
The programme has been temporarily suspended due to coronavirus.
At a Scottish Government press briefing, interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, advised there has been a 72% drop in urgent suspected cancer referrals due to the coronavirus crisis.
Scottish Labour Health spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP said the programme “is still not reaching enough women in the least well-off communities and we are still seeing a worrying postcode lottery”.
She added: “We need to see a concerted effort from the Scottish Government to tackle health inequalities and breast cancer is just one example.
“Scottish Labour is calling on the health secretary to publish an improvement plan, so that when it’s safe to reinstate the breast cancer screening programme, it reaches everyone who needs it.
“In the meantime, anyone who notices changes in their breasts and is worried should not delay in contacting their GP.
“During the coronavirus outbreak there’s been a massive drop in A&E attendance and urgent cancer referrals.
“Scottish Labour is backing health charities and medics who are concerned people are going without medical attention.
“It’s really important the message gets through to the public that the NHS is still there for us.”