HEALTHCARE leaders in Barnsley have joined forces in a fresh attempt to encourage more women aged 50 and above to attend the town centre’s ‘lifesaving’ cancer screening hub.

Medics and staff from the council and hospital will be on hand at the Glass Works today to signpost women towards the new NHS diagnostics centre, which is situated within the £210m leisure complex due to its easy-to-access location, and what it offers.

More than 10,000 screenings have been conducted at the site since its opening in the spring, but thousands of women are still missing appointments.

According to statistics, about 13,000 are not up to date with their three-yearly check-ups and more is being done to reduce the figure.

Coun Caroline Makinson, cabinet spokesperson for public health and communities, said: “We want every person in Barnsley to live life in good physical and mental health, and cancer screening is a huge part of this.

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“If you’ve received your invite letter but haven’t yet booked your appointment, it’s not too late.

“Please call 432100 and get it booked - it’s quick and could save your life.”

Breast screening is available for women aged 50 to 71 every three years and uses an X-ray test called a mammogram.

One in seven women get breast cancer in their lifetime, and it’s one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

Screening can help to find breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel, leaders behind the awareness drive said.

Sarah Lee, interim breast programme manager at Barnsley Hospital, added: “The diagnostic centre has revolutionised Barnsley’s breast screening service by making this elective scan so accessible to the community.

“By using text message reminders, alongside the invite letter, we hope to continually raise awareness and uptake of ladies accessing the imaging.

“Our long-term aim is to improve breast cancer prognosis by detecting these cancers at an early stage.”

The facility - which cost just under £3m - was the first of its kind in the country to be sited in a town centre retail and leisure facility and healthcare leaders have called for more women to take advantage of its arrival.

One who did attend, Lynn Gough, told the Chronicle the centre gave her a stress-free experience and urged others to follow suit.

“I received a letter informing me that my routine breast screening was due and to ring and book an appointment at my convenience,” she said.

“I rang and was offered a number of dates and times for an appointment at the new centre.

“It is brilliant, spacious, clean, car parking was easy, and the staff were very professional, friendly and made me feel so much at ease.”

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, praised the centre’s arrival and told those eligible to get checked out.

“The importance of early diagnosis, improving screening uptake and talking to a GP if you have concerns cannot be stressed enough,” he added.

“Currently just over half of cancers are detected in their first stages so, if you notice any changes or something that’s not quite right, please get it checked out.

“Our remarkable NHS workforce play a vital role in treating those with cancer, caring for patients and helping to ease the burden on families.

“I hugely value their work, but I know the huge pressures they’re under.

“Our NHS are still grappling with the secondary impacts of the pandemic; a backlog in cancer services, a devastating number of missed cancer referrals and delays in starting treatment.”