Breast screening review must address the mammogram backlog
Health NZ has announced a "quality improvement review" of the national breast screening programme, and at the same time two district health boards in Wellington are investigating the impact of delays to mammograms for 6,000 women in the region.
Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast DHBs have identified 52 cases where delays to mammograms of more than 60 days may have affected people's treatment or prognosis. The DHBs have apologised to the people affected.
Our chief executive, Ah-Leen Rayner, says Health NZ’s review is an acknowledgement of the crucial role of screening in protecting women’s health and she welcomes the appointment of Dr Dale Bramley, who is highly respected across the sector, to undertake this work.
However, she points out the review must include a plan to address the backlog of 50,000 women overdue their mammograms: “I strongly hope that ‘quality’ includes meeting timeliness targets," Ah-Leen said.
"The Wellington situation is a painful reminder that delayed mammograms put women at risk, and right now there’s a backlog of 50,000 overdue mammograms nationally. It’s horribly ironic that days after a Budget which delivered mammoth healthcare investment, a major problem in screening has been admitted, yet no money was allocated to improving the service.
“I’m very hopeful this process will result in breast screening participation being added to the Government’s Health System Indicators, given that breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women under 65 in Aotearoa – that’s the best way to ensure the equity and quality the review is looking for.”
We're asking the Government to allocated $15m of targeted funding to help BreastScreen Aotearoa clear the mammogram backlog within a year. You can add your voice by joining our #GiveUsOurMammograms campaign - find out more here.