Defeat in rural breast screening campaign

Coun Liz Oades

Coun Liz Oades

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A BATTLE to bring breast screening to the rural Fylde has ended in defeat after a consultation was slammed as a box-ticking exercise.

Kirkham councillors Liz Oades and Keith Beckett were left furious after NHS North Lancashire announced its mobile screening unit would be housed in Lytham – ignoring pleas for it to stop in Wesham.

They claim the move – which comes following a public consultation – will mean dozens of women are unable to access appointments, with many facing a long trek due to there being no public transport from areas such as Treales, Rosecare and Wharles.

And Coun Oades told The Gazette: “I think the decision was made before they ever went to consultation.

“I’ve been asking for eight years for some kind of service in Wesham – even if it’s just a mobile unit once or twice a year.

“I believe the decision they have taken has been a financial one rather than what is best for the patients.”

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NHS North Lancashire had to choose between Lytham Primary Care Centre – at the town’s hospital – and the former Primary Care Trust offices in Wesham.

Bosses say the Lytham site was chosen because the future of the Wesham offices is not certain, residents in rural Fylde are within a 25-minute drive of Lytham and St Annes is Fylde’s most deprived area, meaning its residents should be nearer a screening unit.

But Coun Beckett – who compiled a petition alongside Coun Oades – said when women were sent appointments at Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, poor public transport links meant he had to drive them – and he fears the same will happen with the Lytham unit.

He added: “It’s a mobile unit – what is the big fuss about if you can’t drive it somewhere?

“I’m not bothered about it going to Lytham but why can’t it come to Wesham as well?

“The public consultation was just a piece of paper.”

The unit will continue to visit Fleetwood Leisure Centre and the Teanlowe centre car park, in Poulton.

Dr Karen Slade, Consultant in Public Health at NHS North Lancashire, said: “In choosing the locations for the mobile units in North Lancashire an exercise took place looking at the health of local people and the current uptake of screening along with consideration of access and acceptability.

“Stakeholders representing the views of women eligible for screening in Fylde and Wyre were invited to comment during August 2011, meetings were held with local councillors, patient and community representatives and the Lancashire Local Involvement Network.”

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