Stephen criticises breast screening transfer


Stephen has asked the Government for an explanation of damage caused to the Central and East London breast screening service.  It was transferred last year from Barts Health NHS Trust to the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The controversial move took place amidst warnings of an inadequate number of staff at the Royal Free.  Stephen wrote to Public Health England ahead of the transfer, warning of problems, but it went ahead nevertheless.  Afterwards, the number of women invited to breast screening appointments collapsed, from 3,000 per month to 1,100.

In the Commons, Stephen asked Ministers why the transfer was approved, despite warnings from patient groups, staff and MPs.  Responding for the Department of Health, Jackie Doyle-Price acknowledged that the service offered to women “plummeted” after the move in April last year.  She failed, however, to say why the transfer took place, merely reconfirming that the award of the contract to the Royal Free was approved by both NHS England’s London region and NHS England’s commercial executive group. Stephen asked who was accountable for the failure; the Minister didn’t answer.

Speaking afterwards, Stephen said “I am deeply disappointed that Ministers are refusing to take responsibility for this disastrous transfer.  Large numbers of women have missed out on screening as a result. This is unacceptable."

“I will continue pursuing this, to find out why the warnings were ignored.”