New mobile screening unit supports breast cancer detection

Four images, clockwise from left: Captain Bray cuts the ribbon to open the new unit; the new unit; the concert band of Britannia Naval College playing at the opening; equipment inside the scanner

Published: 16 January 2024

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust celebrated the arrival of a new breast screening unit at a ribbon cutting event held recently.

Even though the new unit has been operational since the end of November, the ceremonial event took place at Dartmouth Health and Wellbeing Centre on the afternoon of Friday 12 January.

The ribbon cutting was undertaken by Captain Andrew Bray of Britannia Royal Naval College who was accompanied by his wife, Lauren. Speeches were given by Chairman of the Trust Sir Richard Ibbotson and Dr Katie Giles; the event was also supported by MP for Torbay Kevin Foster.

Dr Katie Giles, who is the screening programme director for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Screening mammograms help us to detect breast cancer at a very early opportunity, most commonly before a breast lump is even felt. Early diagnosis means earlier treatment, better outcomes and improved survival rates for patients. In the last screening year alone, the Torbay and South Devon Screening programme have diagnosed 112 breast cancers.

“With our trust being in such a rural location, challenges relating to transport is always a factor in any area of health. For us to be able to deliver the NHS target within Torbay and South Devon, it is vital that we are breaking down the barriers that hinder uptake for this type of healthcare.”

“The new mobile screening unit was funded by NHS England at a cost of £240,000 and allows us to offer mobile screening at nine locations across the Trust area, as well as within our main unit at Torbay Hospital.”

The mobile unit and team of mammographers travel the length and breadth of Torbay and South Devon NHS’ patch to offer breast screening to clients in their own communities. This avoids the need to travel long distances or undertake complex journeys on public transport when accessing breast screening.

Chairman of the Trust Sir Richard Ibbotson said: “This new unit will replace the previous one that was kindly purchased for us by the Torbay Hospital League of Friends in 2011. The new unit has already completed in the region of 900 screenings since it went operational at the end of November.

“We are thrilled to be able to continue offering mobile breast screening with the arrival of this new and up-to-date unit which allows us to maintain our commitment to our local community, which is to offer accessible breast screening and diagnose breast cancer as early as possible.”

“The ribbon cutting event was also supported by the Concert Band of Britannia Royal Naval College. The mixed quintet kindly volunteered to play and warmed the spirits of all who attended despite the very low temperatures; I thank them personally and on behalf of Torbay and South Devon NHS for the role they played at the ceremonial event.”

Before cutting the ribbon, Captain Bray said: “I am delighted to be opening this fantastic facility. Britannia Royal Naval College has always enjoyed a close relationship with the local community and the wider Torbay ad South Devon NHS Trust, who provide excellent care to all the military families who live and work in this area.

“The link between the military and our amazing health services is an important one and it is my pleasure to be celebrating that relationship here today.”