Mammograms

March 12th, 2008 - Pat Breen

QUESTION NOS: 151 to 153

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Health and Children (Ms. Harney (Dublin Mid-West))

by Deputy Pat Breen

for WRITTEN ANSWER on 12/03/2008

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children the number of women on the waiting list for mammograms at Limerick Regional Hospital; the length of time those women are on the waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 12th March, 2008.

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children the number of mammograms carried out at Ennis General Hospital for the years 2005, 2006 and up to 3 July 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 12th March, 2008.

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children the number of women from County Clare who are awaiting mammograms at Limerick General Hospital; the length of time those women are on the waiting list; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 12th March, 2008.

REPLY.

The HSE has designated Limerick Regional Hospital and University College Hospital Galway as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Western Region. Waiting times for routine investigations can, and will be, reduced by making better use of the existing capacity. The National Cancer Control Director, Prof. Tom Keane has said that there are many unnecessary follow-up visits for breast cancer patients after treatment. Resources could be better used for initial investigations for new patients. He plans to eliminate such unnecessary follow-ups in developing clinical practice norms. Significant work has also been undertaken in the area of symptomatic breast disease services, supported by the Irish College of General Practitioners, in relation to referral criteria and the development of appropriate referral forms to allow for appropriate triage of urgent and non-urgent cases.

The HSE National Hospitals Office will transfer full responsibility for all symptomatic breast services to the National Cancer Control Programme by the end of this month. The Programme recently completed a detailed review of resource requirements to create capacity for the progressive transfer of all symptomatic breast cancer services to the eight designated cancer centres with the objective of completing 60% transfer by the end of this year and 90% by the end of 2009. Funding of €5.8 million has been allocated from the Programme across the eight centres, including Limerick Regional Hospital, to support additional staff, including Consultant, Radiography, Nursing and clerical posts. Funding has also been allocated for some necessary additional equipment.

In parallel with progress under the National Cancer Control Programme, national roll-out of BreastCheck will significantly reduce the number of patients being referred to the symptomatic services as routine referrals. BreastCheck screening commenced in the Western Region last May and in the Southern Region last October.

The Deputy’s specific questions in relation to mammography at Ennis General Hospital and Limerick Regional Hospital relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the HSE under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in this regard.