Councillor 'horrified' over mobile breast screening unit in Bedford supermarket car park

"I am really concerned that there are females who would be self-conscious about actually going into that appointment”
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A Bedford borough councillor has said she was “horrified” when she discovered the location of a mobile breast screening unit.

Adding that she is concerned the location may put women off attending their appointments.

The borough council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard on Monday (January 15) that due to construction works at North Wing the breast screening service moved to Morrisons on Ampthill Road.

Breast Screening van at Morrisons, Ampthill Road Bedford, Photo: LDRSBreast Screening van at Morrisons, Ampthill Road Bedford, Photo: LDRS
Breast Screening van at Morrisons, Ampthill Road Bedford, Photo: LDRS

Dr Janet Bietzk, breast physician and clinical director, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s not easy to find sites, there are no toilets on the vans so we have to have a site where our girls can use the toilet facilities wherever we are.

“The supermarkets are usually very accommodating about that. And obviously it has to be somewhere where people can park when they arrive.”

Councillor Caroline White (Labour, Kempston Central & East) realised that the unit had to be parked somewhere, but she was concerned that the location might impact on the take-up of the appointments.

“I’m quite horrified where that is actually situated,” she said. “You’ve got the electric charging points, you’ve got the café. You’ve got workmen stopping off to get their breakfast and they’re all sort of outside.

“We should be in 2024 where you’re not conscious of doing [breast screening].

“I think because of the uptake we have to bear everything in mind and if ladies are not feeling comfortable because it’s on the main road in the middle of a car park, it really does make me worry that there may be females who are not willing to get out their cars and go into that unit because you’ve got breast screening plastered all on the side of it.

“[And there’s] all the traffic going by, I am really concerned that there are females who would be self-conscious about actually going into that appointment.

“Is it the most appropriate place to have it?” she asked.

Dr Janet Bietzk said they could talk to Morrisons about the possibility of moving it

In a statement sent to the Local Democracy Reporting Service a Morrisons spokesperson said: “We’re really pleased to be working with the NHS to offer the breast screening unit within our car park.

“The location was chosen to raise awareness of the service which has been really well received locally. We haven’t had any requests to move the location of the unit but will absolutely listen and review accordingly should anyone get in touch.”

The NHS offers screening to save lives from breast cancer by finding breast cancers at an early stage when they are too small to see or feel.

Visit the Beds & Herts Breast Screening Service website for more information.