Will you join our working group for accessible cancer screenings?
Living in Scotland there are lots of things to look forward to as you get older: free bus travel, retirement – and the inevitable envelope inviting you to a routine cancer screening
For people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), other disabilities and long-term health conditions, that envelope is also inevitable. Because, as we all know, none of us are immune to cancer.
Disabled people have been unable to access screenings
While it is admirable that in Scotland people are screened for a number of cancers on a regular basis, reports have shown us that disabled people have been unable to access screenings for a number of reasons. These include: inaccessible screening venues, screening equipment that isn’t adaptable to the individual, and screening being a distressing experience for people with learning disabilities.
Earlier this year MS Society Scotland were told about the experience of a woman living with MS who had twice been unable to undergo routine breast cancer screening as she was unable to weight-bear due to her MS. She continues to be regularly called for screening despite no changes being made to how the NHS carries out mammograms. Her family has repeatedly sought answers to their questions about accessible screenings. Once it appeared that these were not available in Scotland, the family came to us, looking for support to make changes to the current system.
Telling the Government what needs to change
In July 2019 the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing announced a fundamental review of the Scottish Breast Screening Programme, following an increased demand in the programme. We will be inputting to this review to drastically improve the experience of people with MS when undergoing breast cancer screening, particularly for those who cannot weight-bear.
Over 11,000 people live with MS in Scotland. It’s a chronic neurological condition, which is often painful and exhausting and can cause problems with how people walk, move, see, think and feel. In addition, there are many more people in Scotland living with other disabilities and long-term conditions who will be potentially impacted by the lack of screening facilities for people who cannot weight-bear.
Working together we can improve screenings
We are calling on other charities and organisations to join us in working together to respond in a way that is mutually beneficial for the people we support. Breast cancer screening is just one type of screening and this gives an opportunity to influence positive change and the potential to work together in the future to improve screenings across the board for those with disabilities. If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch: email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Armstrong is Campaigns Coordinator at MS Society Scotland.