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BreastCheck screening uptake in parts of south inner city and northside Dublin was significantly below the national target of 70 per cent, shows data obtained from the HSE.
According to the figures covering January 2017 to December 2018, the lowest uptake was in the ‘Mansion House MU’ service area, at just 53.9 per cent. This was followed by ‘Mansion House CR’ at 55.3 per cent. The National Screening Service (NSS) uses electoral divisions in implementing the service, and both districts are in Dublin’s south inner city.
The next lowest uptakes were in northside Dublin, with Priorswood/Kilmore at 59.3 per cent, Finglas North and South at 62.2 per cent, and Ballymun A-F at 63.2 per cent.
These areas were followed by Rathmines (63.6 per cent), Kilmainham (63.9 per cent), North County Dublin (predominantly areas around the airport) at 66.8 per cent, Limerick city centre no.1 (67.1 per cent), Clare County (Scariff) at 67.8 per cent, Crumlin (67.8 per cent), Lucan North (68.7 per cent), and Clondalkin 1, 2 (69.5 per cent).
Nationally, BreastCheck uptake for the second quarter of 2019 was 69.3 per cent (70.9 per cent, year to date).
The HSE’s performance report for July to September 2019 stated that recruitment of additional staff to support age extension to women aged 65 and over “remains a key priority for the programme during 2019”.
“The proportion of women waiting >24 months for an invitation for breast screening during 2019 has decreased. Currently, 49.3 per cent of eligible women aged 50-to-68 have been invited for breast screening within 24 months. Further efforts to reduce this over the course of the year include the hiring of additional radiography and radiology staff, with a plan to hire locums pending permanent appointments.
“This, however, may not be possible due to the lack of suitable candidates for consultant radiology posts. There is a similar issue with available radiographers. So a solution is complex and not at all straightforward and will impact numbers screened and the backlog in BreastCheck.”
No comment on low uptake in particular districts, and roll-out of the service, had been received before going to press.
On 12 March, BreastCheck announced the postponement of all screening appointments until 23 March due to the Covid-19 crisis. It said this situation would be monitored. Meanwhile, the Irish Cancer Society has issued advice on Covid-19 for cancer patients, cancer survivors and their families, which is available on its website, www.cancer.ie.
Pictured is Monaghan-based GP Dr Illona Duffy with her own ‘improvised’ face-mask and protective equipment as general practitioners faced the new reality of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following a meeting between the ICGP Covid-19 GP communications subgroup and the HSE leadership, it was announced that a preliminary delivery of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) items would commence dispersal to all GPs from Friday, 13 March, with further supplies to be delivered “over the coming weeks”. Each pack will contain gels, masks, gowns and gloves, an ICGP letter to its members confirmed. “More supplies have been secured and will be made available to GPs over the coming weeks,” the letter stated. “However, supplies are challenging at the moment and we hope that the above initial supply will go some way towards assisting GPs.”