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Breast Screening

Volume 546: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2012

15. What progress his Department has made in introducing fully digital breast screening; and if he will make a statement. (110329)

As at 1 May 2012, 74 out of 80 local breast screening services had at least one digital X-ray set, and 53 were fully digital. All services must have at least one digital X-ray set in order to enter the breast screening randomisation project and extend screening to women aged 47 to 73.

I thank the Minister for his reply, but may I press him on making digital happen in my constituency? Where is funding responsibility in the new NHS for investment in new digital equipment and for making the switch? Does it fall 100% with the foundation trust wishing to be commissioned to provide the service, or with the body wanting to commission it, or—dare I say?—is there a third way?

There are three aspects to that question. The first is that we need to ensure that providers can purchase equipment at the lowest possible price. That is why NHS Supply Chain is making arrangements to ensure that digital mammography is available at the lowest possible price to providers through the various initiatives it is taking. The primary responsibility sits with the provider to provide the equipment against which they have been commissioned to provide services. Of course, in the specification it makes for the service, the commissioner will make it clear that digital is required.