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NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde’s director of public health has presented the board’s Public Health Screening Programmes 2014/15 annual report.
Dr Emilia Crighton’s report shows areas of encouragement where Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) screening targets have been exceeded. However, a number of targets are still not being met despite national and local awareness raising campaigns.
Diabetic retinopathy screening saw 84.4% uptake against the 80% target and abdominal aortic aneurysm screening was 80%, well above the 70% target.
Very high uptake rates were also recorded for maternity and early years screening.
While HIS has not set any targets for these groups, pregnancy screening for communicable diseases and haemoglobinopathies came in at 99% and 97.3% respectively. New born screening for bloodspot and hearing were recorded at 98.7% and 97.6% respectively, while pres-school vision screening uptake was 86.5%.
However, the number of residents taking up cervical, breast and bowel screening opportunities were all below the set targets.
Against a target of 80%, only 70.9% of those eligible for cervical screening took up the invitation with only 234,755 of the 331,326 eligible attending. This represents a 3.1% decrease compared to 2013/14.
Breast screening also saw a 3.1% drop in the number of women attending screening compared to 2011/14. Of the 132,178 eligible, 84,864 attended meaning the HIS target of 70% was missed by 5.8%.
Bowel screening has seen a 1.8% increase in the number of screening kits completed and returned to the bowel screening laboratory for analysis. The uptake of 53.3% represents an increase of 6,844 kits completed since 2013/14 when uptake was 51.5%, but is below both the Scottish average of 57.6% and the HIS target of 60%.
Emilia said: “It’s encouraging to see targets being well exceeded for diabetic retinopathy and abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. Screening levels for pregnant women, newborns and pre-school children were also very high which is a real testament to health staff, and parents and guardians who are giving their children a good start in life.
“However, it’s disappointing that there are eligible people who aren’t taking up cervical, breast and bowel screening opportunities despite local and national awareness raising campaigns.
“Regular cervical screening is the best way for women to protect themselves against cervical cancer and the test takes less than five minutes.
“Cervical cancer is a preventable disease and regular screening prevents eight out of 10 cancers developing. All women in Scotland aged 20 to 60 are offered tests every three years and screening saves around 5,000 lives each year.
“It’s worrying to see the lowest uptake level of 52.6% was amongst the 21-24 age group. Research shows the main barriers stopping women from attending cervical screening are fear, embarrassment and pain. I’d strongly urge every single person who is eligible to get screened. Don’t be embarrassed or put it off; screening could save your life.”
“Unfortunately, there has also been a decrease in the number of women attending breast screening appointments.
“Breast screening is an important tool in the fight to cut rates of cancer. A number of steps have been taken to make this as easy as possible, including additional community engagement in those areas where uptake is at its lowest.
“We piloted a local social marketing campaign this year in Glasgow North East to reinforce the national Detect Cancer Early breast cancer messages and encourage women to consider screening. This involved phone and text appointment reminders, radio and cinema advertising, competitions and pharmacy prescription bags with key messages.
“It is heartening that we’re seeing the number of people completing and returning bowel testing kits, but we’re still lagging behind the target.
“The test is easy to carry out and people can do it in the privacy of their own homes. It looks for hidden blood in bowel movements which could indicate a higher chance of bowel cancer. People may think that doing the test sounds embarrassing, but if it helps us to identify bowel or colorectal cancer early then it makes the disease easier to treat.”
While Emilia is happy to see the number of people attending diabetic retinopathy screening surpassing the national target, she is concerned at the increase of diabetes across the board area.
The number of residents with diabetes has increased by 30% since 2007/08 with 63,173 now diagnosed.
Emilia said: “Obesity is having a growing impact on both peoples’ lives and the health service. The number of adults with diabetes is growing with 5.8% of adult residents now affected by it.
“Half of all pregnant women across our area were overweight with 22.3% obese or severely obese. Due to the higher risks of developing complications, the rising cost of obesity in pregnancy is placing a greater financial burden on the NHS - £600 Million every year nationally.
“Obese women stay nearly five days longer in hospital than healthy women and their care cost is estimated at five times higher. The costs associated with newborns are also increased as babies born to obese mothers have a three and a half-fold increased risk of admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.”
“As a result, we’re now focusing on helping people participate in more physical activity, prepare and eat a healthy diet, and manage their weight on a long term basis.”