The National Co-ordinating Centre for the Physics of Mammography (NCCPM) is run on behalf of the NHS Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) by the Medical Physics Department of the Royal Surrey County Hospital.
The NCCPM is led by Dr Alistair Mackenzie who is the National QA Physicist for the NHSBSP. The centre has a broad remit to provide scientific and technical advice to the NHSBSP. This involves the setup and management of information systems that enable NCCPM to monitor the performance of the breast imaging equipment used in the NHSBSP.
Advice and planning guidance is provided to Public Health England and throughout the NHSBSP by active participation in formal national committees and meetings, as well as direct communications with leading radiologists, radiographers and physicists working for the NHSBSP.
NCCPM initiates programmes of research leading to improvements in how breast screening is provided by the NHS and is a leading centre of expertise in this field.
Professor Ken Young is the Head of Research.
A variety of technologies have been developed to permit digital imaging in mammography. Since these systems can behave and perform quite differently from the analogue technology, it was necessary to develop appropriate standards and testing procedures for measuring image quality and radiation dose.
NCCPM has participated in the development of a European protocol for quality control of digital mammography in breast screening.
Further information is available at www.euref.org.
A supplement to the protocol which provides updated guidance was published in 2013 (www.euref.org/european-guidelines).
UK guidance on testing digital mammography systems is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/breast-screening-professional-guidance
Information on the equipment used by the NHSBSP is maintained in a database by NCCPM. This information is updated every six months by sending equipment lists to superintendent radiographers at each centre.
Equipment faults are reported by radiographers at screening centres throughout the UK to NCCPM and these are added to the database. Where further information or action is required the servicing agents are contacted and their replies are documented. Meetings are held periodically with the servicing agents to discuss faults reported for their equipment. Minutes of these meetings are distributed to all members of the NHSBSP’s Equipment, Radiographer and Physics Committees.
A Review of NHSBSP Equipment and Equipment Faults is prepared every six months and published internally by the NHSBSP. These reports are available to registered users from the NHS Breast Screening website.
NCCPM conducts technical evaluations of new mammographic imaging systems on behalf of the NHSBSP. This has involved a great deal of activity as imaging manufacturers have introduced new versions of their digital mammography systems. The following table summarises the progress of these evaluations since 2009.
A list of all recent (not just NCCPM) equipment reports can be found at the website https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/breast-screening-professional-guidance
The National Co-ordinating Centre for the Physics of Mammography (NCCPM) has produced tools to aid specific tasks. Some of these tools are made available below: