Press Release

Minister for Health & Children opens new BreastCheck Screening Units in Cork and Galway

Mary Harney TD, Minister for Health & Children today (Monday 17th December, 2007) officially opened two new BreastCheck screening units which will provide free breast screening services to women in the Western and Southern Regions of the country. The new purpose built static units are located at the South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, Cork and at University College Hospital Galway. Screening from both units has already commenced.

The Southern Unit will provide services to women in counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Waterford and Tipperary South Riding. The Western Unit will provide services to women in counties Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, and Tipperary North Riding.

Speaking at the launch of the units in Cork and Galway, the Minister said: “BreastCheck’s aim is to detect and treat breast cancer as early as possible and as such is a key element of our Cancer Control Strategy. The effectiveness of this model of care has been demonstrated through rigorous published quality assurance which shows that it is on a par with the best in the world. It therefore provides a benchmark for cancer services nationally.”

The BreastCheck programme delivers screening to women in their local community through the use of static and mobile screening units. The 4% of women who need follow-on treatment receive it at one of the four BreastCheck static units nationally.

An additional €26.7 million capital funding was provided to BreastCheck for the construction of the two new clinical units, eight additional mobile units and the provision of state of the art digital equipment. Construction to final handover of the two units took just over one year to complete in Cork and Galway.

A total of €15 million additional revenue funding has been allocated to the National Cancer Screening Service to cater for national roll-out of the programme. The full complement of 111 staff for roll-out has been approved and recruitment is underway. Staffing already appointed include Clinical Directors, Consultant Radiologists, Consultant Surgeons, Consultant Histopathologists, Consultant Anaesthetists, Medical Scientists, Breast Care Nurses and Radiographers.

The Minister paid tribute to the Board of the National Cancer Screening Service, its Chair, Dr. Sheelah Ryan, the CEO of the Service, Mr. Tony O’Brien and his clinical and administrative team for their absolute dedication and commitment to ensuring that the project was completed on schedule.

The Minister added “I am delighted that the target date of 2007 for commencement of the roll-out of the programme to the regions has been met. This will ensure that all women in the relevant age group in every county have access to breast screening and follow up treatment where appropriate.