Women at greatest risk of breast cancer continue to be prioritised for screening. The NHS has worked hard and has significantly reduced the backlog of delayed breast screening appointments from over 468,000 in June to under 52,000 in September. All services have now been restarted and, in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the message is clear: when you get a screening invite, please attend; if you are worried about anything, contact your general practitioner.
Breast screening appointments were paused during the height of the pandemic. Breast Cancer Now has estimated that 986,000 women across the UK missed their mammograms, and it estimates that, as a result, there could be 8,600 women living with undetected breast cancer. With this being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what steps is the Secretary of State taking to address the gaps in specialist breast cancer nurses recently highlighted by Macmillan Cancer Support?
I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Cancer nurse specialists are a particular interest of mine, and the long-term plan identifies that everybody deserves to have personalised care from a cancer nurse specialist. We did see the rate decline from 91% in 2018 to about 89% in 2019, and we are focused on making sure that everybody has a cancer nurse specialist. We promised it in the long-term plan and it is our ambition to deliver that personalised care to every woman. As I have outlined, the backlog of breast cancer screening has gone down but, again, I urge women who are called for screening to come forward. It is safe and, as with me, it could make all the difference.