Routine breast screening

Breast screening service during COVID-19

Updated 05 October 2021

All breast imaging services are continuing as normal with COVID-19 precautions in place.

Invitations to breast screening appointments will continue to be sent to people between 50 and 70 years old who are registered as female with their GP. 

Self-referrals for those aged over 71 to screening clinics are being accepted. This action is aligned with national guidance provided by Public Health England. Appointments will be available at the Princess Anne Hospital only.

Our screening timeframe is currently much longer than usual as we have changed many of our practices to ensure a COVID-19 safe environment. We now have a one-way system on the mobile units and accommodate disinfecting procedures between each appointment to ensure health and safety standards are maintained. This means that we cannot screen as many women per day as we would have in the past. We apologise for this and as guidance changes it may be that we are in a position to increase our screening rate.

In order to help minimise delays to screening invitations we have had to consolidate some of our van locations. This means that it may not be possible to provide screening appointments at locations we have previously visited. Again, we apologise for this also and would encourage attendance at our static site within the Princess Anne Hospital for those who have received an invite and would prefer to be screened sooner.

Please be assured that further updates will be published as necessary.

In the meantime, if you have any changes in your breast or symptoms that are causing you concern, please contact your GP.

This service may now use text messaging to provide appointment reminders and essential service updates.

Routine breast screening

The NHS breast screening programme provides free breast screening for all women in the UK aged 50 and over. Around one-and-a-half million women are screened in the UK each year. All women aged 50 to 70 automatically receive an invitation to routine screening (an x-ray examination) every three years.

The Southampton and Salisbury breast screening unit invites women registered with a GP practice. We rotate through the practices in our catchment area on a three-yearly cycle. Ordinarily this means that your first invitation for breast screening will fall between your 49th and 53rd birthday, at a time when your practice is being screened.

However, from March 2013 the unit age extended the service to all women who fall within the new screening age groups of 47 to 49 and 71 to 73. This is a national reform and will be phased in so the benefit of extending the age range for breast screening is able to be scientifically evaluated.

As a result of phasing in only one of the new screening age groups (either age group 47 to 49 or age group 71 to 73) will be invited along with all eligible 50 to 70 year olds for screening from your GP practice. We do not know which age group will be invited until we generate the screening invitations on our computer system. Please see the extending the screening age range leaflet for further information. 

You can also download the dates and locations of the next round of screening for GP practices in the Southampton and Salisbury breast screening catchment area.

Once women reach the upper age range, they are encouraged to continue routine three-yearly screening. Women over the age of 70 may contact the unit to refer themselves for an appointment.

Mobile screening appointments

Mammography Mobile UnitYou will be sent an invitation to be screened at one of our mobile units. The information will include a date and time for your appointment and directions to the unit in your area. If you cannot attend or wish to change your appointment please phone and let us know.

As we are not always able to offer the same site for subsequent screening invitations, please check the appointment details in your letter carefully.

If you have a disability and receive an invitation for mobile screening, please contact us, as you will need to come to the Princess Anne Hospital instead.

Further information and information in other languages

The leaflets below will give you more information about breast screening