Hundreds of Ayrshire women are missing out on potentially life-saving breast cancer tests, according to new figures.

Shock new figures show that one in four women in the area have failed to attend screening appointments in the last three years.

Now area MSP Sharon Dowey is urging women to turn up when they are invited by their local hospital.

Ms Dowey, a Conservative MSP for the South Scotland region, says that screening helps doctors find early signs of cancer, making treatment simpler and more effective.

According to figures released by Public Health Scotland (PHS), 75.3 per cent of women in Ayrshire and Arran attended their breast screening appointment in the period between 2019-22.

The uptake is below that of health board areas like the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Grampian, Orkney, Shetland and Tayside.

The same figures show only 67 per cent of women living in the most deprived parts of Ayrshire turned up for their free screening, compared to 84.2 per cent living in more affluent areas.

Ms Dowey said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women which claims around 1,000 lives every year in Scotland.

“While the screening won’t prevent cancer, it can detect it early – and early detection saves lives. This is because diagnosing cancer early when it hasn’t spread too far means that treatment is more likely to be effective.

“That’s why it’s concerning to see that less people in Ayrshire are attending their screening appointments than those in the Borders and Tayside, and I’m really keen to see this uptake significantly improve over the next year."

The screening figures are for all women aged 50 to 70.

Ms Dowey added: "I’ll be asking what the Scottish Government plans to do to encourage those in more deprived areas to attend their breast screening.

"Your postcode shouldn’t determine your likelihood of attending a screening, and I want to ensure uptake is high across all of Ayrshire.

“The NHS states online that if you notice any lumps or a change in the size of your breasts, you should contact your GP instead of waiting for a screening invitation.

“While most lumps aren’t cancerous, it’s always better to have them checked by a professional just to be safe – and everyone should attend their breast screening appointment when they’re invited.”

The PHS figures show that screening detected 1,830 breast cancer cases in women of all ages last year.

The area of Scotland with the lowest uptake for breast screening appointments was Glasgow, at 71 per cent, and the highest was Shetland at 86 per cent.

The Ayrshire and Arran figure is the highest it's been for any rolling three-year period since the current regime for collecting data began in 2009 - but it still means onne in four woman are missing their appointments.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the increase in uptake of breast screening, but we know more needs done to address inequalities and encourage those from less deprived areas to attend when invited for screening.

“The work of the breast screening modernisation programme board will strengthen the breast screening programme and is looking at addressing inequalities and providing access for everyone.

“As well as this work is also currently underway on a national Equity in Screening Strategy, which is being led by National Screening Oversight.

"The strategy will provide a focus and commitment to tackle inequalities in screening."

NHS Ayrshire and Arran has been contacted for comment.