Black masectomy patient who was given 'white woman's breast' by NHS sparks call for change in Milton Keynes

A black woman who had a mastectomy for breast cancer has described how her mental health suffered after she was given a white person’s prothesis.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 4:19 pm
Mastectomy editorial image

The woman, only known as Jo, said the standard NHS prosthetic breast comes in a “flesh colour” that is only suitable for white patients.

“The impact that this unforgiving gesture had on my mental health and recovery was catastrophic,” she told a focus group for Milton Keynes Healthwatch.

There was an “audible gasp” as Jo told her story, say Healthwatch.

Mastectomy editorial image

The watchdog body, which is the independent champion for people who use health and social care service in MK, is now urging the NHS to provide prosthetic breasts in both black and white colours.

A Healthwatch spokesman said: “In the same way that different sizes and shapes are catered to in the temporary range, colour should be of equal importance.

“Just as not every white woman will match exactly the ‘flesh’ tone that is provided temporarily, not every dark skin tone will match.

But it would not be difficult to have an ‘average’ skin tone in both black and white available to women until they can get their customised prosthetic fitted.”

Mastectomy editorial image

The prosthetic problem was revealed in a report about the long term plans for Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes NHS services.

A survey showed almost 1000 people believe there should be better access to health and community services round the clock, every day of the year.

Maxine Taffetani, Healthwatch CEO, said: “It was clear from the views of local people that access to the right service or treatment at the right time is a high priority for everyone. People was support available 27/7 and not just during working hours.”

She added: “We will now monitor how the local NHS responds.”