How is the breast screening programme organised?

There are 80 breast screening units across England, each inviting a defined population of eligible women (aged 50 to 70) through their GP practices. Women are invited to a specialised screening unit, which can be hospital based, mobile, or permanently based in another convenient location such as a shopping centre.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme is nationally coordinated. It sets national standards which are monitored through a national quality assurance network. For England, there is a national coordination office, based in Sheffield, and an advisory committee which oversees the programme and reports to government ministers.

The programme was commended as a "model service" in the Health Select Committee's third report into breast cancer services in July 1995.

How much does the programme cost?

In England, the breast screening programme is now estimated to cost around £96 million a year.