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Bairbre de Brún expresses concerns regarding backlog in breast cancer screening    

25 May, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this afternoon expressed serious concerns after it emerged that approximately 10,000 women in the Northern Health Board area have not received breast screening treatment due to a lack of radiologists. The Northern board has said that the backlog is running 13 month behind schedule. Ms de Brún described the waiting times as a ‘nightmare situation for many women’.


Ms de Brún made her comments before she travelled to Derry City as guest speaker at the AGM of the Derry Well Woman this evening.


Speaking today the former Assembly Health Minister said:


“Routine screening for women over 50 is one of the cornerstones of good health for that age group. While women should regularly carry out their own checks, the health service screening test provides reassurance and much needed early warning. This situation also adds further strain for women who have a specific worry and are anxiously awaiting breast screening in the Northern Board area. It does not take a genius to work out that the longer the backlog, the greater the potential for possible cancer to spread. Early detection is all important.


“Whilst the Northern Board is seeking to remedy the situation by employing new radiologists and re-establishing the breast screening programme in August, this remains a nightmare situation for many women and all indications suggest that the number of women yet to be tested is set to rise even further.


“Given that this situation has been compounded by a severe shortage of radiologists, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety need to look at ways of seeking to recruit and retain specialists in this field.


“This evening I will deliver a speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Derry Well Woman. They have received well deserved recognition for their cross border work on women’s health and for their work on cancer, in particular. Mary Harney’s recent pronouncements regarding the possible loss of breast cancer treatment at Letterkenny GeneralHospital is a stark reminder of the state of the health service in Ireland. The size of the backlog for breast screening is another example of a service under pressure.” ENDS

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