Dáil Éireann - Volume 527 - 07 December, 2000
Written Answers. - Cancer Screening Programme.
Mr. R. Bruton Mr. R. Bruton
172. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if the report on the future of mammography screening has now been published; and if the recommendations have been accepted for implementation. [29153/00]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The Deputy may be aware that BreastCheck, the national breast screening programme was formally launched on 10 October last. Phase I of the programme will cover the Eastern, North Eastern and Midland Health Board areas and will target 136,000 women in the age cohort 50 to 64, which represents approximately 50% of the national target population. The service is being delivered by two central units, the Eccles unit on the Mater Hospital campus and the Merrion unit on St. Vincent's Hospital campus, with outreach to the community by means of three mobile units. The Eccles unit is now fully commissioned and screening commenced there in February 2000. Limited screening is also in progress in St. Vincent's Hospital pending the construction of the new Merrion unit. In addition, the first mobile screening commenced on 21 August 2000 in Longford.
The decision to proceed on a phased basis is a reflection of the complexities involved in the screening process rather than the costs involved and my Department's key objective is to ensure that the programme meets the necessary quality assurance criteria. It is for this reason that the national breast screening programme must be driven by international quality assurance standards and best practice. Decisions in relation to subsequent phases of the programme will be guided by the experience gained from putting phase I of the programme in place. Phase II will involve the extension of the programme to the rest of the country. The steering committee has recommended that phase II of the programme should follow phase I as soon as is practicable.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I have received the report of the sub-group of the national cancer forum on the development of services for symptomatic breast disease. I have considered this report, and I accept the broad thrust of its recommendations. I established an advisory group, chaired by Prof. Niall O'Higgins, St. Vin cent's Hospital, to assist and liaise with health boards in formulating their plans for the development of specialist breast cancer services. I am confident that the development of new symptomatic breast disease services which I am announcing today will greatly enhance the quality of the services currently available to the women of Ireland.
Dáil Éireann 527 Written Answers. Cancer Screening Programme.