We are absolutely delighted to have won the 2019 British Institute of Radiology ‘Make It Better’ award for our work in making screening more accessible for women with learning disabilities.
Working in partnership with Surrey County Council Adult Social Care, Surrey & Border Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Learning Disability Liaison Service and Surrey Choices who provide a range of support services to improve the independence, confidence and life skills of those with a range of disabilities, we aimed to improve awareness and attendance of the routine NHS breast screening invitation, by spending time with women with learning disabilities, carers and support organisations to understand the barriers to women attending their appointments.
Research showed that there was a particularly low uptake of these life-saving appointments among women with learning disabilities, so by working with GP practices and specialist LD teams, we implemented a flagging system to allow for a reasonably adjusted screening offer to be made. This included introducing an Accessible Information Standard (AIS) Notice Board that was displayed on-site, offering the option of information in an ‘accessible format’, easy read step by step guides to breast screening and staff receiving tailored training. A clinical and non-clinical ‘Learning Disability Champion’ was also nominated, supported by tailored information that created a better experience with screening staff. Reasonable adjustments such as extended appointment times were also offered to ensure sufficient time and resources were made available for women. Finally, carers and care workers were provided with more knowledge about the NHS Breast Screening Programme, giving them the tools to signpost women to those who could help.
As a result, the number of women with learning disabilities who attended their appointments increased from 50% in 2016/17 to 66.7% in 2017/18 – a 15% rise in appointment uptake.
We very much look forward to the presentation of our award at the UKIO Conference in Liverpool later this year and would like to thank everyone who helped us make healthcare better for patients.