Healthy Communities and Cancer Screening

There are three national cancer screening programmes in England: breast, bowel and cervical. There is a wider variation in screening uptake and coverage between different regions in England, and across local places within West Yorkshire and Harrogate. For example, we know that people living with physical and/or learning disabilities, those living in deprived, people with mental health issues and ethnic minorities have lower uptake rates for screening.

The Healthy Communities programme works with stakeholders to target these ‘low-uptake’ groups, firstly by understanding the barriers to accessing cancer screening services and subsequently using evidence-based interventions to overcome these barriers where possible.

Bowel Screening

Bowel screening coverage in West Yorkshire and Harrogate is above the England average. Screening is offered every two years to both men and women aged 60-74. People older that this can request a screen every two years by calling 0800 707 6060. A kit called a FIT is sent to your home for you to take a sample of your poo and send back to the laboratory for testing.

For more information please click the link via the heading above or visit the Cancer Research UK or Macmillan websites. 

Breast Screening

Breast screening coverage in West Yorkshire and Harrogate is below national targets. Screening is offered to women every three years between the ages of 50-71. A mammogram is used to take x-rays of each breast twice to spot early signs of breast cancer before it can be seen or felt. After the age of 71, screens can be requested every three years at your local Breast Screening Unit.

For more information on breast screening please clink on the link in the heading above or visit the Cancer Research UK or Macmillan websites.

Cervical Screening

Cervical screening coverage in West Yorkshire and Harrogate is above the England average, however the rates are falling, especially in younger age groups. Cervical screening is available to women and people with a cervix aged 25-64, those aged between 25-49 are screened every three years and between 50-64 every five years. Cervical screening looks for the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) in the cervix which can cause abnormal cells. If abnormal cells are found, a follow-up screen is arranged for 12 months’ time.

For more information, please click on the link in the heading above or visit the Cancer Research UK or Jo's Trust websites.

The Healthy Communities Programme is working hard with system partners to support the restoration of all these screening programmes, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Screening Work

  • Click here for the new easy read bowel and cervical screening guides, which explains the screening more simply and is aimed at those with a learning disability.
  • A recent survey completed by media company Magpie looking at barriers to screening in our region can be found here 
  • The Alliance is working with the Bowel Screening Hub and the local areas to improve access to FIT screening for people with learning disabilities and in mental health trusts. This is based on a model used in the North East. Find out more here
  • We are working with partners to support primary care to improve cervical screening uptake by targeting areas of inequality, using behavioural science techniques based on a model used in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw. A successful pilot has been completed in Bradford and is now being rolled out to other parts of West Yorkshire.
  • A film for women with learning disabilities to take the fear out of going for breast screening has been produced by North Bristol NHS Trust. It tells the story of a woman with learning difficulties being asked to go for a mammogram and follows her though the process. You can view the film here
  • Live Through This is a cancer support and advocacy charity for the LGBTIQ+ community. The charity provides "a safe space for anybody who identifies as part of the queer spectrum and has had an experience with any kind of cancer at any stage from testing, diagnosis, treatment, remission to long term care". The charity has collaborated with Fox Fisher to create an informative video of a trans person attending a screening. View the video below.

Resources for professionals wanting to improve screening uptake

  • Healthy Communities Gateway C.pngLeaflets in additional languages here for cervicalbowel and breast screening
  • Public Health Matters blog about overcoming barriers to cervical screening uptake
  • webpage about reasonable adjustments for cancer screening
  • Public Health Matters blog about overcoming barriers for screening for people with mental health issues
  • GatewayC is a free online education platform containing courses and symptom maps which are focused on early diagnosis of cancers available to all healthcare professionals. The courses are accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners, are worth Continuing Professional Development points, and have been proven in pilots to increase healthcare worker confidence in diagnosis, high quality referral of patients who could have early signs and symptoms of cancer and ability to follow NICE guidance

If you would like our Project Manager Hayley Snowden to meet with your practice/PCN to discuss how to improve early diagnosis of cancer in your population(s), please email