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Manchester Foundation
Trust Charity

Training the Next Generation of Breast Imaging Experts

National Academy based in Manchester
Thursday 19th October 2023

Manchester will be at the heart of plans to build a National Breast Imaging Academy which will train 50 staff a year in breast imaging skills amidst workforce shortage


A purpose-built academy is set to be built in Manchester to provide training for a generation of breast imaging experts, helping thousands more women in the region get their mammograms.


The National Breast Imaging Academy will support the training of over 50 new breast imaging staff per year, addressing a significant workforce shortfall which would otherwise have serious ramifications for the future of mammography services


Around two in five (38%) breast imaging radiographers in the UK, almost half (39%) of breast clinicians and around 40% of specialist breast doctors are set to retire by 2025. Almost 15% of breast radiologist and radiographic posts are vacant nationally.

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Meanwhile, the pandemic caused a backlog in mammogram appointments due to the pausing of the National Breast Imaging Service. This, combined with closing breast clinics elsewhere in the region due to staff shortages, has heaped pressure on the remaining services and without investment in more staff the future of mammography in the region is unclear.


The National Breast Imaging Academy (NBIA) will be built at Wythenshawe Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), as an extension to the hospital’s existing Nightingale Centre – which is where thousands of North West women a year go for their mammograms and for other breast care services.


It would allow up to 13,000 additional women to be seen each year for their mammograms and follow-up appointments, while also offering a dedicated space for the training of new breast imaging specialists. Now, Prevent Breast Cancer, the UK’s only charity dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer, and MFT’s own charity, Manchester Foundation Trust Charity, have teamed up to ask for the public’s help to get the building over the line, with the launch of a new appeal: the Build to Beat Breast Cancer Appeal.


The two charities have joined forces to fundraise for around £1.8m to finish the plans. The dedicated training centre will provide the essential space and cutting-edge facilities to train the next generation of breast imaging staff in the UK. 


Nikki Barraclough, Chief Executive of Prevent Breast Cancer, said: “The National Breast Imaging Academy is vitally important for the future of women’s health not just in the North West but throughout the UK. Breast cancer can be very well hidden – often women who are diagnosed with cancer after a mammogram have no outward signs that the disease was there, like having a lump. Without mammograms, these women might not find out they have cancer until it’s too late.

“Now we need your help in funding the final stages of this vital building. Whether you’re a business owner, part of a charitable trust or simply an individual who wants to help, we’re counting on your support to fund this incredibly important centre which will save the lives of thousands of North West women.”

Caption: Actress and Appeal spokesperson Sally Dynevor with Dr Mary Wilson and patient Keisha Chadwick


Among those already lending support to the fundraising pledge is Prevent Breast Cancer patron and breast cancer survivor, Sally Dynevor – better known to many as Coronation Street’s Sally Webster. She said: “My cancer was caught because of the skill and care of breast radiologists. I know first-hand the difference that early detection can make and to think that women in the future might have to wait for mammograms or breast screenings because of staff shortages is terrifying.


“I wholeheartedly support Prevent Breast Cancer and the Manchester Foundation Trust Charity with this appeal, which will not only make Manchester a national centre for breast imaging training but will have a very real impact on the lives of women in the area.”


Dr Mary Wilson, consultant breast radiologist at MFT and programme lead for the NBIA, said: “Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment relies on the expertise of breast imaging specialists. These men and women are often the first to spot a potential problem or even a cancer in its early stages, before any symptoms such as breast lumps are evident.


“Early detection is key for increasing a woman’s chances of survival; not only does it reduce the risk that the cancer has spread, but it also means that treatment can often be less aggressive and much less disruptive to people’s lives.


“Without this Academy, we are looking at a future without enough trained specialists to meet demands for mammograms. Patients could experience delays in their breast screens which could result in later diagnoses, which could be detrimental to their ongoing treatment.”

Kathy Cowell OBE DL, chairman of MFT added: “The NBIA is a vital part of our plans to protect the future of breast screening in the UK. While it will be located here in Manchester, it will train specialists from all over the country, helping to protect the lives of women all over Great Britain.”


Breast cancer affects over 55,000 individuals annually in the UK, and specialist breast imaging to enable screening, diagnosis, treatment and research is key to improving survival rates. Every year, nearly 12,000 lives are lost to breast cancer in the UK.


The National Breast Imaging Academy training centre will be an extension of the esteemed Nightingale Centre at Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. It will provide state-of-the-art facilities for hands-on clinical training and promote careers in breast imaging, as well as significantly increasing clinical capacity, providing the space and equipment to enable an additional 13,000 patients to be seen each year. It will also supply much needed space for ground-breaking research into the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
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