Emmerdale breast cancer storyline 'may be behind spike in NHS screenings'

A huge spike in demand for local breast cancer services might have been caused by a TV soap storyline, health bosses have been told.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 5:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 3:08 pm
Emmerdale's Sally Dexter, who plays Faith Dingle, has earned plaudits for her handling of an emotional double masectomy storyline.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, said last month it was struggling to see patients referred for breast cancer screenings quickly enough.

The backlog has continued, despite the trust putting on more capacity than ever before.

Now it's been suggested that more women may have been encouraged to check themselves out by what they were watching on television.

A spike in demand for screenings has been reported across the country.

The issue was broached in ITV's Emmerdale last year, when character Faith Dingle revealed she'd had a double mastectomy.

At a Wakefield CCG Board meeting on Tuesday, it was said that the Mid Yorkshire trust was using a third party provider to help deal with the problem.

Similar issues have been reported across the country since around Christmas time.

After it was asked what might be behind the increase in demand, Chapelthorpe GP Dr Clive Harries responded: "They think it might have been a storyline in a soap that caused it.

Pinderfields Hospital is struggling to keep up with demand.

"It is very unusual because spikes don't tend to last as long as this."

In February, figures from the Mid Yorkshire trust showed that 68 per cent of those referred to its breast cancer services by their GPs were being seen within a fortnight.

Government imposed targets say 93 per cent should be seen within two weeks.

NHS advice that women with any symptoms should seek medical attention still stands.

Dr Harries added: "It would be interesting a breakdown of the figures to see how many serious diagnoses there have been, or if patients have something less significant.

"It would be interesting to understand a little bit more about that because they (the trust) are struggling to meet demand."

Revived drama Cold Feet has also recently tackled the issue, with character Jenny Gifford diagnosed with the disease at the start of series eight, which began in January.