THE Echo is today launching a campaign to help raise the last £125,000 needed to pay for state-of-the-art breast screening equipment in south Essex.

The Bosom Pals On the Road Appeal at Southend Hospital is almost at its goal of raising £500,000 for hi-tech digital mammography equipment for the women of south Essex.

However, last big push is now neded to help raise the final £125,000 before October to get the equipment in place to extend the screening to an estimated extra 10,000 women a year.


The Echo is asking its readers to help the appeal reach its target. Chris Hatton, Echo deputy editor, said: “The Echo has covered many stories of inspirational people who have been through the trauma of suffering breast cancer.

“We’ve also covered hundreds of fundraising events for the appeal. We hope our readers will embrace the appeal even further and do all they can to raise money either by donating to the appeal or organising fundraising events.

“The team behind it are now so close to reaching their target, we thought we would add our weight to make sure we get to that target as soon as possible.”

Download a donation form here:

Echo appeal - donation form.doc

Southend Standard: Bosom Pals


Watch a video on the work of the team here:

The fundraising campaign was launched by Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation in October 2011 to provide digital screening equipment for the mobile vans which cover the whole of south Essex for patients undergoing routine breast screening.

The £500,000 raised will be spent on replacing analogue machines with the latest digital equipment on the three mobile vans.

At the moment, the x-rays - consisting of four images per patient - are physically transported back from the mobile trailers and to the breast unit for reading as films.

Organising the x-rays on the mobile units plus all the processing, sorting and preparing needed is fiddly and complex.

Films also have to be filed and stored. Digital mammography means images can be captured, viewed and shared within a matter of minutes.

Neil Rothnie, Southend’s medical director and consultant breast surgeon, said: “In the early days, digital systems were not of high enough quality to pick up some very early signs of cancer.

“But nowadays the technology has developed to give extremely high-quality pictures.”

All women aged 50 to 70 are invited for routine mammograms at these trailers every three years.

Digital technology is needed because from next year the age women can be screened will be extended to those aged from 47 to 73.

This will take the number of women screened in south Essex to 38,000. This increase in screening can only happen if the mobile units go hi-tech, offering a quicker process Advances in digital technology inevitably mean that the older analogue system will eventually be superseded.

Radiographer Alison Milne said: “For us, the only way forward is digital. “We have a worry that the analogue equipment, that has served us well, will become more and more difficult to replace.”

A new trailer and equipment should be delivered to the hospital by early summer ready for staff training with the other three mobile units upgraded to digital by the end of the year.