Health December 2, 2019
Social media boosting awareness of breast screening services

By Francesco Tamilia - Accountable Care Journal

Following the successful pilot of one of NHS Digital’s Widening Digital Participation Projects, which saw a 12.9 per cent increase in first-time appointments between three-year breast cancer screening cycles from 2014 to 2018, the service is being rolled out more broadly.

The North Midlands Breast Screening Service was the first to launch a Facebook page to inform and reduce anxiety about breast screening services. Currently, more than 300 general practice nurses and other practice staff have been trained to use social media to help promote services.

Bay Medical Group in Morecambe has also seen an increase of cervical screening uptake after their Facebook posts reached over a million people. Commenting on the scheme, Cath McLennan, IT and Communications Officer said: “It was absolutely amazing. I now aim for each of our posts to reach at least 1,000 people to get information to our patients. We’ve also seen a positive impact as more women have attended for screening. I really enjoy supporting health and promoting practice through social media. ”

The success of social media campaigns in raising awareness of screening has also been highlighted in a new Government report, which recommended that there should be further pilot projects.

Nicola Gill, Director of The Widening Digital Participation, which aims to make digital health services and information accessible to everyone – particularly the most excluded people in society – said: “NHS Digital is incredibly proud to have been able to support this innovative model that is now being adopted and used by NHS organisations across the country. ”

Richard Earley, UK Public Policy Manager at Facebook, said that they are “thrilled” that more practices are using Facebook to drive awareness of their services in the community they support.