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Breast Service Public Consultation Supports Service Move

Proposals to bring together breast screening services in Warrington at Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre have been given the go ahead following a six-week public consultation.

The approved proposals which also include plans to discontinue screening at Warrington Hospital’s ageing Kendrick Wing will see breast screening consolidated at a single site which is undergoing enhancements to improve the experience for patients. The consultation, held between 6th May and 21st June 2022, received 163 responses. The findings showed that 75% of respondents would prefer to have screening at Bath Street and 87% would be either very satisfied or satisfied to have screening at Bath Street. Responses indicated that the three most important aspects of the service were the outcome of screening, staff expertise and waiting times.

The consultation followed a review of options for breast screening in Warrington. Patient numbers accessing breast services at Kendrick Wing have almost doubled in the last 20 years and the century-old estate provides no obvious opportunity for expansion. There are also multiple estate issues relating to access as the service is located on the first floor and an old lift is frequently out of service and difficult to repair.

A clinician-led multi-disciplinary team explored all possible options for the screening service and concluded that it would be in the best interests of the service to propose the move to Bath Street.

In addition to the capacity and estate issues, there were also other more compelling reasons to relocate, not least the national shortage of Breast Radiologists and Mammographers. The service would be able to consolidate scarce specialist resources and equipment within a single site in a modern, bespoke screening facility. This naturally presents a considerably more attractive employment offer for clinicians specialising in breast services. Additionally, more appointments will be available for the same number of staff, due to efficiencies of running the larger clinic on one site.

Addressing these issues will lead to a significantly enhanced patient experience. The Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre is a purpose-built outpatient centre which is undergoing expansion to facilitate more routine breast screening appointments. It is a fully accessible, modern facility with dedicated car parking, free for 90 minutes, and is closer to the main public transport interchange in Warrington town centre than the main hospital site.

Breast screening services remain unchanged and continue as normal at the existing Bath Street facility, St Helen’s Burney Breast Unit, Whiston Hospital and in mobile units as well as at Halton Hospital Breast Centre (relocated from the Delamere Centre on the same site).

Several suggestions to influence the further development of the plans were received from the widely represented population responding to the consultation, and previous users of the service, who provided their own ‘lived experience’. These related to the need to improve signage, making people aware of parking and public transport options at Bath Street, accessibility considerations for changing rooms and clearly communicating the facilities available at the screening clinic.

Director of Communications and Engagement, Kate Henry, said:

“We are extremely grateful to the people of Warrington and Halton, as well as the support of more than 50 community advocacy groups and voluntary organisations, who took the time to participate in the engagement and consultation processes. Their input and comments were invaluable in helping us to work towards a successful consolidation of the breast screening service offered within Warrington.

“We now look forward to expanding and enhancing our screening facilities at Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre to offer more appointments and an improved experience to our patients by Summer 2023.”