The University of Wolverhampton is working with partners from the Black Country Integrated Care System (ICS) to improve healthcare for Black African and Caribbean communities.
Research has shown women from Black African and Caribbean communities are known to develop breast cancer at a much younger age compared to white women and seeking help and health advice at an earlier stage can contribute significantly to reducing inequalities in breast cancer outcomes. The Black Country Integrated Care System (ICS), brings the NHS together with local authorities and other local partners to plan and deliver joined up health and care services, and to improve the lives of people who live and work in the Black Country.
A key purpose of the Black Country ICS is to tackle inequalities in outcomes, experience and access. The Black Country ICS has commissioned Dr Martin Bollard, Head of Nursing in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Wolverhampton, to carry out work to help discover the barriers Black African and Caribbean women face when attending breast screening and GP appointments.
Following these conversations, Dr Bollard aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. This will then inform a set of solution-focused initiatives with Black African and Caribbean communities in partnership with health professionals and commissioners across the Black Country.
Dr Martin Bollard said: “I am delighted to have been asked to lead on this important work. As an anchor institution within the West Midlands, we have a civic responsibility to be engaging with our communities directly in place. This approach creates a foundation for repeat involvement and engagement with identified communities, giving opportunities to monitor long-term change in terms of the VCSE (voluntary, community and social enterprise) intervention’s impact on health.
“Liaising with the community and voluntary sector, initial conversations will be hosted in a way that works for Black African and Caribbean women, to understand and determine the barriers and blockages for screening attendance. Once the barriers have been defined, we can then work together to co-design solutions with health professionals and commissioners to remove or alleviate these barriers.”
Diane Wake, Cancer Lead for the Black Country Integrated Care System, said: “Early detection is the best form of defence against breast cancer, which is why breast screening appointments are so important. This is an important piece of work that will help us identify the barriers that Black African and Caribbean women face when attending breast screening and GP appointments in the Black Country.
“Our aim is that all women feel comfortable to come forward for a screening when invited and if they have any symptoms that they’re worried could be breast cancer, they feel encouraged to come forward straight away and speak to their GP.” Dr Bollard will begin his study in January 2023.