Scottish Government has made £350,000 available nationally for projects aimed at increasing the uptake of cancer screening programmes in those experiencing deprivation and health inequalities.
They are now inviting proposal submissions. Proposal should be ready to start by the end of this calendar year, and should be expected to complete by April 2021.
The Screening Inequalities Fund will be used to support and deliver work on tackling inequalities in access to screening services across Scotland, and the process of applying for funding.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, this year’s call for bids is later than in previous years, and as stated above, any projects will have a shorter timescale in which to complete: by April 2021. Projects should be able to respond quickly to new and emerging inequalities as a result of COVID-19. This could also include an enhancement to a currently running project.
Scotland continues to face significant health inequalities, and any new proposal should aim to help address those challenges in relation to breast, bowel and cervical screening. The impact of COVID-19 may exacerbate existing inequalities and/or cause new ones to emerge, which may include (but are not limited to) the following areas and groups of people:
- Transport – for many people restrictions on public transport and a reluctance to use it during the pandemic may impact their access to screening. This may have a particular impact on those with disabilities or on lower incomes.
- High risk conditions – those with significant underlying health conditions that increase the risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19 (including those who were added to the shielding list) may be more anxious about attending and therefore less likely to do so.
- Other characteristics – evidence of real-world COVID-19 outcomes suggests increasing age, being male or from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) background are correlated with more severe consequences from COVID-19. This could lead to a greater reluctance among these groups to attend appointments.
- Carers – those who provide support for those at higher risk may also be more anxious and therefore less likely to attend.
- Other vulnerable groups – for example, those with learning difficulties, disabilities or who struggle with their mental health may have been affected more adversely than the general population by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, and may need increased support to feel confident about accessing screening appointments.
It is, therefore, expected that every proposal will make clear:
- the context for the intervention
- how the intervention will target the impact of COVID-19 on the screening programmes, and on tackling inequalities
- the specific group being targeted by the intervention
- a realistic insight into what can be achieved through the funding requested
Outcomes will need to be realistic about what can be achieved within the timescales available for these focused projects. Suggested outcome measures may include:
- increased knowledge of the cancer screening programmes and the benefits and risks afforded to individuals
- consideration of personalised informed choice
- increased intention to accept invitations for screening, or increased uptake
- earlier detection of disease
The deadline for applications is Thursday 5th November.