Page last updated at 07:11 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Mobile breast screening unit has wheelchair access

Woman having a test
Only 1,500 out of about 9,000 eligible wheelchair users attend for screening

A new mobile breast screening unit which will allow women wheelchair access is being launched.

Breast Test Wales said the £140,000 unit, which has a large covered lift, will allow wheelchair users to enter the mobile unit safely.

It aims to encourage women with a physical disability to attend their free breast screening appointments.

The Welsh programme has the highest detection rate in the UK and a lower than average deaths from the disease.

About 9,000 women in Wales are registered as wheelchair users in the group between 50 and 70 in which women are screened for breast cancer, but only about 1,500 currently attend for the potentially life-saving test.

Dr Rose Fox, deputy director of Screening Services Wales explained: "Until now, many of the women who were unable to climb the steps of our mobile units have had to travel long distances.

"We know that many haven't felt able to take advantage of the breast screening programme. So I am delighted that we will now be able to offer screening to more women in Wales."

As well as the lift, the new unit which is currently sited in Bridgend, has other features to make the service easier for disabled users.

These include a wider corridor down the centre of the unit, a larger entrance with a lowered reception desk and a wider door into the x-ray room.

A larger x-ray room allows more space for a wheelchair, and two of the changing cubicles can convert into one large one, to accommodate wheelchairs.

A call button on street level will also enable users to register on arrival. The unit can accommodate wheelchairs up to 31 inches wide.

Waiting time

The unit will only operate in parts of south east Wales, but Breast Test Wales is planning to replace every Breast Test mobile unit over the next few years, bringing equality of service to every woman across Wales.

"We will be keen to evaluate the experience of women and staff using the unit, to ensure that the design is as user-friendly as it can be," Dr Fox said.

Last month the Cancer Screening Evaluation Unit found for every 1,000 women screened, 6.7 cancers were detected in the first round, rising to 7.2 in later tests.

A separate audit found women in Wales had the lowest average waiting time for their first surgical appointment.

In 2006, 968 women in Wales were diagnosed through screening.

The death rate from the disease is 26.66 per 100,000, slightly lower than the UK average of 26.71.



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