Launch of £3.2M “Build to Beat Breast Cancer” Appeal

A NEW £3.2million fundraising appeal has been launched today to build a national training academy for breast cancer professionals and help to save lives.

Manchester Foundation Trust Charity and Prevent Breast Cancer have teamed up to tackle the challenges facing the breast screening workforce, by launching the ‘Build To Beat Breast Cancer’ appeal for a new National Breast Imaging Academy training facility in south Manchester. By joining forces, the two charities are hoping to raise the money more quickly.

The new building will play a key role in tackling staff shortages across the national breast imaging workforce, providing access to specialist training programmes for the additional mammographers, radiographers and breast clinicians needed to deliver sustainable breast screening and care services across the country.

Over the years, demand for breast imaging has increased at a much faster rate than staffing numbers, placing very significant pressures on the workforce. The situation has been made worse by the pandemic and the fact that 40% of the doctors are due to retire by 2025.*

Since the start of the pandemic, research has shown that 1.5 million fewer breast screening appointments have been carried out, and it is estimated that 12,000 people could be living with undiagnosed breast cancer.**

The new building, which will be an extension of the Nightingale Centre and Prevent Breast Cancer Research Unit at Wythenshawe Hospital, which is part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), will bring a number of important benefits. Alongside providing excellent workforce training facilities, it will enable an extra 13,000 patients be seen each year and offer additional capacity for research into breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. It will also help to level up health inequalities and create much-needed job opportunities for the local community.
The two charities have 18 months to raise the funds, combining their expertise to tackle the nationwide challenges breast imaging is facing.

Dr Mary Wilson is a consultant breast radiologist with MFT, a trustee of Prevent Breast Cancer, and the lead for the National Breast Imaging Academy. She said: “Unless we act now and create a building in which to train staff, we will be unable to meet the increased demands over the coming months and years – and more lives will be lost to this disease.

“Even before the coronavirus crisis, many breast services were struggling to diagnose and treat people as quickly as we would want, and the pressure on breast imaging was a big part of this. Given the massive surge in demand we will see over the coming months, without a huge investment in training and support from the public, we will simply be unable to meet the service needs.”

In 2018, a national partnership supported by Health Education England (HEE) developed the National Breast Imaging Academy. HEE committed £6m to establish and deliver training initiatives across all professional groups.

This funding has enabled Manchester Foundation Trust Charity and Prevent Breast Cancer to concentrate on fundraising £3.2million for a bespoke building in which to host the academy’s training programmes.

Lester Barr, consultant breast surgeon and founder of Prevent Breast Cancer, added: “Now, more than ever, is a crucial time for fundraising and training, and we urgently need a national academy to train more breast cancer doctors, nurses, radiographers and mammography apprentices, as screening is key to saving lives.

“There is currently an acute shortage of breast imaging experts but the demand for these services continues to rise. As a result, we need more space to undertake our research and to build a workforce for the future, trained and ready to go.

“The National Breast Imaging Academy will help rebuild breast cancer teams across the country, and fulfil our vision as a charity that changes in breast cancer screening, early diagnosis, and prevention strategies can make the disease preventable for the next generation.”

The National Breast Imaging Academy is an innovative collaboration and is supported by NHS England and Improvement, The Royal College of Radiologists, The Society and College of Radiographers, The British Society of Breast Radiology and the Association of Breast Clinicians.

Find out more about the appeal and the National Breast Imaging Academy here.