Press Release

Micheál Martin, Minister for Health and Children welcomes BreastCheck´s Annual Report

“BreastCheck was established in 1998, to the end of August this year, almost 92,000 women in the age group of 50 to 64 had been called for screening and over 68,000 women had been screened, this represents an uptake of 74%. I understand that BreastCheck is on target to complete phase one of the programme by December 2002”, said Minister Micheál Martin today at the launch of BreastCheck’s Annual Report.

“Earlier this year a team from the European Reference Centre for Quality Assurance visited the programme. The key strengths of the programme identified by the Reference Centre are outstandingly high levels of professional expertise, team working and commitment to the programme with all disciplines working to an internationally recognised standard. The Report also congratulates the programme on its investment in high quality and internationally recognised professional staff. This is indeed high praise from an international visiting team”, the Minister said.

“My commitment and that of the Government is evidenced by significant funding which has been provided for the programme. This year, additional funding of €1.5million was provided to BreastCheck for the continued development of the programme, bringing the total allocation to date to €8.7million. In addition, I have also made available approximately €6million for the construction of a new state of the art screening unit at St. Vincent´s Hospital to replace the current Merrion Unit. Work is expected to commence shortly on this development”, the Minister added.

“Since 1997, over €103 million has been invested in the development of services, well in excess of the €25million initially envisaged in the Cancer Strategy. This investment has enabled the funding of 76 additional consultant posts in key areas such as Medical Oncology, Radiology, Palliative Care, Histopathology, and Haematology, together with support staff throughout the country. This includes approval which has been given for 9 new Consultant posts with a special interest in breast disease. This investment is a major element of the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Sub-Group on the Development of Services for Symptomatic Breast Disease. I have already said that the continuing development of symptomatic breast disease services as being a priority in the coming years”, he said.

“My Department is in discussions with the Executive of BreastCheck in relation to the expansion and especially the linkages with the existing symptomatic services. I am committed to the national expansion of BreastCheck and a decision in relation to this issue will be considered in the context of the overall investment programme in cancer services for 2003”, the Minister concluded.