CUMBRIA’S top health chief has revealed that there are “no major concerns” surrounding screening and immunisation across the county.

But Colin Cox, the region’s director of public health, warned that there were “significant variations” across Cumbria and in the uptake between different groups.

He also revealed that there was a “much lower uptake” of screening and immunisation by people with learning difficulties.

Speaking at a recent meeting of Cumbria’s Health and Wellbeing Board, he said: “Even where we are not necessarily hitting some of the targets set, we are, generally speaking, good compared to the England average. There is a general sense that things are going reasonably well.

“However, there are significant variations both geographically across the county and in terms of uptake by different groups, and there is a lot more we can do to tackle some of those inequalities.”

Mr Cox was delivering a report from the Health Protection Oversight Group established 18 months ago.

David Blacklock, Chief Executive, Healthwatch Cumbria, said that the Cumbria and Lancashire wings of the organisation had been working to improve the information available for people with learning difficulties around the importance of cervical, bowel and breast cancer screening.

“We already know that people with learning difficulties are dying significantly younger because of some of these issues,” he said.

Major findings

Breast Screening

Overall Cumbria has uptake rates consistently above the 70 per cent minimum standard and is meeting the 80 per cent achievable standard.

Broken down by district, only Allerdale, Carlisle and Eden are meeting the achievable standard. However, Copeland, Barrow and South Lakes are falling below this standard.

There are just four screening sites in Cumbria unlike other areas in both the North East and Lancashire which as well as having static sites, also have mobile breast screening units.

Bowel cancer

The overall uptake of bowel screening in Cumbria is 63.6 per cent which exceeds the standard of 60 per cent and is higher than the average for England.

When broken down by district, only Copeland is not meeting the achievable standard.

The uptake rate of bowel cancer screening for North Cumbria 2017-18 was 63.7 per cent. This varied considerably by practice uptake which ranged from 53.3 per cent to 70.5 per cent.

Cervical Screening

The overall uptake for cervical screening in Cumbria is 76.9 per cent which is higher than the England average but below the standard of 80 per cent .