At the Conservative party conference in September Health and Social Care secretary Matt Hancock told delegates that the UK is looking “very seriously” at making vaccinations compulsory for schoolchildren in England in response to falling vaccination rates.

 “When the state provides a service to people then it’s a two-way street. You have to take your responsibilities too,” he said.

His comments followed figures that emerged a week earlier showing all routine vaccinations in England for under-5s fell last year, a decline which Sally Davies, then the chief medical officer for England, said was troubling. Also, this year the UK lost its official “measles-free” status, after 231 cases were confirmed from January to March 2019.

These and other aspects of childhood vaccinations will be on the agenda for discussion by Surrey Heartlands stakeholders at the Surrey Heartlands Partnership Forum event on Wednesday 15 January at Epsom Hospital from 2pm.

Also on the agenda is cancer screening. Earlier this year it was reported that the proportion of women aged 50-70 taking up routine breast screening invitations fell to 70.5% in 2017-18, down from 71.1% in 2016-17 and from 73.2% in 2007-08. Yet the benefits of having a screening test are known to include:

  • Screening can detect a problem early, before you have any symptoms.
  • Finding out about a problem early can mean that treatment is more effective.
  • Finding out you have a health problem or an increased risk of a health problem can help people make better informed decisions about their health.
  • Screening can reduce the risk of developing a condition or its complications.
  • Screening can save lives.

Ideas and suggestions from the Surrey Heartlands Partnership Forum audience will be gathered and taken into account in future decision-making around both topics.