Careers posted 5 January, 2023

New mammography workforce model boosts breast screening programme

New mammography workforce model boosts breast screening programme

The NBIA has launched a new animation to highlight how the Mammography Associate apprenticeship programme is helping to boost staffing levels in the NHS Breast Screening Programme (NHS BSP).

There are major staff shortages within the breast imaging profession, with 12% of mammographic workforce posts vacant and staffing has not increased in line with demand. Along with the impact of the pandemic, this means that many primary breast screening services are struggling to meet demand.

A growing number of NHS Breast Screening Programmes are now using the Mammography Associate Level 4 apprenticeship programme to boost their mammography workforce and tackle these long-term staffing issues.

The apprenticeship is a cost-effective way to train staff who are immediately ‘job ready’ to support the running of an efficient breast screening service.  Mammography Associates can be trained in 12 months, with training costs absorbed by the national apprenticeship levy. Apprentice roles are easy to recruit to and having a clear training and development path helps to retain qualified staff.

National guidelines which stated that two Mammography Associates could not work together at a screening site without a radiographer being present to supervise them have also been changed. This followed a pilot study by the NHSBSP in 2019, which found that Mammography Associates could work effectively with remote supervision by a radiographer, if the screening site was hard wired to the base site or had phone access to a qualified radiographer.

The animation explores the benefits that this new workforce model offers to the NHSBSP, providing vital additional resources to increase the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

For more information about the Mammography Associate apprenticeship programme, go to