“It’s not good enough that 10 women in Wellington may have been harmed by a service that is meant to protect them"
Te Whatu Ora has today released two reviews looking into breast screening, with the aim of improving services for women across New Zealand.
The Quality Improvement Review of Breast Screening Aotearoa looked at the national screening service as a whole, and came away with 26 recommendations on what could be done better. These include setting up a new national register to directly invite women to pparticipate in breast screening as soon as they are eligible, as well as a Breast Screening Action Plan, which will be focussed on improving access to screening and experiences for Māori and Pacific women.
The second review was of BreastScreen Central, the service that delivers screening for the Greater Wellington region, which was commissioned last year, following a discovery that a number of people had waited longer than 60 working days from enrolment to being offered a mammogram.
It identified that 10 people may have experienced harm from these delays, but that this couldn't be confirmed at an individual level.
In response to these two reviews, Ah-Leen Rayner, chief executive of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, says: “It’s not good enough that 10 women in Wellington may have been harmed by a service that is meant to protect them.
“We’ve seen action plans before, but little has actually changed. The national Breast Screening Action Plan mentioned today must be ambitious and deliver tangible change – extending the screening age to 74 and lowering it to 40 for Māori and Pacific women is the bare minimum needed to save more lives.
“The funding for a new breast screening register isn’t new money – this is the IT system announced in Budget 2021, and will not be the silver bullet for fixing the screening programme’s shortfalls.
“Today’s findings come as no surprise – our recent survey of political parties shows the Government doesn’t support seven out of 13 policy changes that would prevent women – particularly Māori and Pacific – from dying of breast cancer.”