Woman calls for change in law to give workers paid time off to attend breast cancer screenings

Julie Grabham was diagnosed with grade two breast cancer in November 2022

A woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer after attending a routine mammogram is campaigning for employers to give their staff paid leave to attend routine cancer screening.

Julie Grabham, from Porthcawl, launched a petition following her own diagnosis with breast cancer in 2022 - which was discovered during a routine screening appointment.

"I had no symptoms, nothing to worry about." Ms Grabham explained.

"So off I went to the mobile unit in Lampeter car park and I actually did a social media post to say 'come on ladies, get it done - ten to fifteen minutes of your time could save your life' - little did I know what would happen."

In November last year, she was diagnosed with grade two breast cancer.

Ms Grabham said she started the campaign to try and help others from "missing out".

"It got me thinking when I went for that original breast screening something had to be done". Ms Grabham said.

"So many appointments are missed for various reasons so I wanted to work out how could I make my cancer journey make a difference.

"We have these fantastic free screenings and they are incredible but what's also incredible is that there is no legal right for women to have paid time off work to go to these screenings."

Ms Grabham described the current situation as "a workplace lottery", explaining how "some women work for good employers and might get that paid time off", however other women "are not so lucky".

She continued: "We know that early detection of cancer gives us a better chance of survival and we also know that it's less invasive treatment and therefore less burden on the NHS, so I'm campaigning to make a difference and maybe change the world."

The petition, which currently has 968 signatures, will be granted a government response when it reaches 10,000 signatures and will be considered for debate when it reaches 100,000.

Knowing that getting enough signatures is "going to take time", Ms Grabham has also launched the JG HR pledge, which offers businesses the chance to say 'hey, we're not waiting for legislation, we're actually going to commit to this now and we're going to look after our staff'.

"It's opening doors as well because they're not just talking about breast cancer now, they're talking about other screenings that we should be giving paid time off and we should be talking about cancer in the work place.

The pledge has received 80 signatures so far including Swansea City Football Club, Uplands Mobile Limited, Moxie People, West Wales Holiday Cottages and Green Willow Funerals.

Ms Grabham is the owner of HR business JG HR Solutions and said that despite owning a business herself, she hadn't previously considered giving employees paid leave to attend screenings .

"It actually didn't dawn on me until I went through the experience myself" she said.

"And when I'm talking to the likes of Macmillan, a lot of people are shocked, even people who should know are shocked because they might work for good employers but women are missing out.

"I had no symptoms and a lot of the cancer picked up on screenings is because you have no symptoms - that's the whole point of the screening process, so I just think if the Government are putting on this free programme, which is fantastic, we really should be doing all we can to make sure that women go for this screening.

Ms Grabham added: "Work should never be a reason not to go to a check up".

If you have been affected by anything in this article, help and advice can be found here.

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