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Breast screening and COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Due to the high level of COVID-19 in the community, routine breast screening capacity is reduced.

You should attendyour screening appointment if you have been offered one. If you cannot attend, Freephone 1800 45 45 55 so that we can offer the appointment to someone else.

You will get a text message a few days before your appointment. This text message will come from 'Swiftqueue'.

Safety measures are in place throughout our health services to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

If you would like to contact us, Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

If you are waiting for an appointment letter

Due to COVID-19 some people's invitation for breast screening has been delayed by up to a year. You may be aged 53 when you get your first invitation.

  • If you were due to be screened in 2020, we aimed to invite you in 2021.
  • If you were due to be screened in 2021, we will now aim to invite you in 2022.

We aim to return to screening women every 2 years as soon as possible. This depends on the situation with COVID-19 and restrictions continuing to ease.

Who we will screen first

Women who are in the ‘assessment’ phase of breast screening are being seen first.

If you get an appointment for an assessment at one of our static screening units, please attend.

We will then send an appointment date and time to women who are due to have routine screening. We are prioritising women who have been waiting longest.

Please let us know if you cannot attend your appointment. We will offer the slot to someone else and give you another appointment.

Do not attend your screening appointment if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you are aged between 50 and 52, or coming for your test for the first time, check the register. This is to make sure we have all the details we need to invite you to arrange your test.

Physical distancing and infection control measures mean that we have to limit the number of screenings we can do each day.

Going for your screening

Your breast screening test will be the same as it was before COVID-19. But we have made changes to keep you safe from COVID-19 when you go for your appointment.

These changes include:

  • getting a text from BreastCheck staff before your appointment to reduce time spent in the clinic or mobile unit
  • your radiographer or doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • wearing a mask during your appointment
  • waiting outside until it’s time for your appointment
  • fewer people in your healthcare building or mobile unit
  • waiting a little longer for your appointment as the unit must be disinfected between each screening
  • coming into the unit or clinic without a family member with you
  • entering and exiting the clinic through different doors

These measures are in place to keep you safe when attending your breast screening appointment.

What you need to do

Because of these changes you will need to:

  • make sure you have enough time for parking if driving yourself
  • plan for your test to take a little longer
  • check your transport options for your return home
  • bring warm clothes and a rain jacket if not coming by car
  • bring your own pen to sign any forms
  • keep in touch with your clinic ahead of your visit and follow their advice
  • be aware that toilet facilities may not be open in some screening locations

You will receive one BreastCheck appointment letter during this screening round. If you are unable to attend your appointment, please contact the number on the letter to reschedule your appointment. You will not receive a reminder letter.

How you can help us

You may receive a text message a few days before your appointment. Please read and follow the instructions to help plan your appointment.

The appointment times are strict and are arranged to allow for fewer people in the unit. This makes it easier to follow social distancing guidelines during your visit to the unit.

It is important that you wear a mask during your visit to the BreastCheck unit.
Read more about face coverings, masks and COVID-19

You may be waiting a little longer for your appointment as the unit is disinfected between each screening appointment.

If you are unable to attend your appointment, please contact us to reschedule your appointment.

If you have symptoms of breast cancer

Contact your GP without delay if you have any symptoms of breast cancer. Never ignore symptoms.

Symptoms of breast cancer can include:

  • a lump in either breast
  • discharge from either of your nipples (which may be streaked with blood)
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Get advice about COVID-19, including symptoms, testing, vaccination and self-isolation

page last reviewed: 30/03/2020
next review due: 30/03/2023