Breast cancer project

This project is about improving access to breast cancer screening programmes from groups that are struggling to access them at the moment. This is against a background of fewer and fewer people taking up screening.

Black and minority ethnic people experience particular inequalities when it comes to breast cancer. For example, Black women are more likely to develop it at a younger age.

We worked with the National LGB&T Partnership, Faith Action, The Win-Win Alliance, the Association of Mental Health Providers and Friends, Families and Travellers to run the project. We also worked with Public Health England and the Breast Cancer Screening Programme team to ensure our findings were taken up. The project is part of the Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

The lead partner, the National LGB&T Partnership, with support of an academic researcher, conducted a literature review of known barriers to attendance, successful intervention methods, and client experience during breast screening with various community groups. This included black and minority ethnic groups; Traveller communities; faith groups; LGBT people; women with physical disabilities and women with severe mental illness.

Engagement sessions were conducted with the identified community groups to test the findings of the literature review and to determine positive actions that could be taken by the breast screening programme to improve access and take-up of marginalised communities.

Population groups of focus, and the partner leading these groups, were:

  • Black and minority ethnic groups (Race Equality Foundation)
  • Traveller communities (Friends, Family and Travellers)
  • faith groups (Faith Action)
  • LGB women (National LGB&T Partnership)
  • Trans people (National LGB&T Partnership)
  • women with physical disabilities (Win Win Alliance)
  • women with severe mental illness (Mental Health Consortia)

In addition, a further focus group was convened, focusing on an additional marginalised group that emerged from the literature review. Reports were produced from each focus group.

Following the community focus groups, documentation for the practitioners was developed based on intelligence from the reports from the community focus groups. Two focus groups were conducted with staff working within the NHS England breast screening programme to identify whether there were genuine barriers to these positive actions, and what training and support needs they have.

The LGB&T Partnership developed an equality and inclusion toolkit for use by staff working with breast screening services within England, informed by the findings from the community and practitioner focus groups. This included practices that services can adopt in order to best meet the needs of a population group, such as provision of informational literature, communication, and actions of staff. This toolkit also covered the most appropriate methods for targeted awareness raising within community groups. The toolkit was reviewed by all partners to ensure it covers the breadth of population groups outlined above and to ensure that the most effective practice could be disseminated to screening services.

This project was completed in March 2020. Find the guidance and shared practice on here.