A “total failure to deliver” on breast cancer diagnosis services has led a panel of councillors call on the Health Secretary to intervene.

The chairman of Middlesbrough Council’s Health Scrutiny Panel said the decision came after years of talks, aimed at bringing breast radiology services back to James Cook University Hospital, failed to make progress.

It’s been more than three years since breast cancer diagnosis services moved from Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital (JCUH) to North Tees University Hospital (NTUH) in Stockton.

In October 2015, staffing shortages meant people who would have used the Marton Road JCUH for breast cancer checks were told they would have to travel to in NTUH instead.

Although the move was meant to be temporary, the services never moved back to JCUH, and patients living as far away as Staithes continue to be told they need to travel to Stockton for their appointments.

In January, the Health Scrutiny Panel heard that women from the TS1 and TS3 postcodes – two of Middlesbrough’s most deprived areas – make up the majority of those who fail to attend breast screening appointments.

Panel chairman, Cllr Eddie Dryden, said the concern was that the poorest women in society were missing potentially life-saving appointments because they couldn’t afford the round trip to NTUH.

But last week (April 9), the panel decided to call on Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, to intervene after deciding talks with South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (STCCG) had failed to produce results.

“We haven’t decided to do this on a whim. This has been going on since 2015,” Cllr Dryden said.

“We’ve had conversation after conversation with the CCG. We’ve had promises and we’ve met them half-way wherever we could.

“There’s been a total failure for them to even deliver a plan or timeline, or something we could positively work towards so that Middlesbrough and South Tees have the same service as North Tees has.

“I think our mothers and daughters and sisters and wives deserve that service here.

“We’ve been more than patient and it’s just been a failure to deliver by the CCG.”

A spokesman for NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are disappointed to learn that the council has made the decision to refer to the Secretary of State the CCG regarding breast symptomatic services.

 “We are keen to work with the council to understand the rationale for the referral and any action the CCG will need to take as part of this process.”

Breast cancer remains the most commonly occurring cancer in women on Teesside.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the cancer incidence rate was 13.2% higher in the North-east compared with London in 2016.

The ONS figures also revealed that in 2016, mortality from breast cancer was 34.1%.

According to Cancer Research UK: “More than 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive their disease for at least five years compared to around 15% for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage of disease.”