Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Dáil Eireann Debate
242. Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Health and Children the expected time-frame for the full roll out of BreastCheck on a nationwide basis and its availability to women over 65; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25231/07]
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): I am committed to ensuring that the BreastCheck service is rolled out to the remaining regions in the country as quickly as possible. I have allocated additional revenue funding of €8 million to the National Cancer Screening Service for this year to meet the additional costs involved. The full complement of 111 staff for roll-out has been approved. I have also made available an additional €26.7m capital funding for the construction of two new clinical units and the provision of seven additional mobile units and state of the art digital equipment. BreastCheck has confirmed that the roll-out will commence later this month and will take around 27 months to complete. The Programme is designed to offer repeat screening within an interval of 21-27 months.
The expert advice from BreastCheck and from the National Cancer Forum, as contained in its National Strategy for Cancer Control, is that following the national extension of the current programme, the upper age limit should be extended to women aged 69 years. The priority of BreastCheck is to screen women who have not yet been screened and accordingly it is fully focussed at present on the commencement of the first round of screening in the West and South. I will consider extending the age limit as recommended when the national roll-out of the programme is sufficiently developed and it is assured that a quality service is being delivered. Any woman irrespective of her age who has immediate concerns or symptoms should contact her GP who, where appropriate, will refer her to the symptomatic services in her area.
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