I welcome the publication by the HSE's National Cancer Screening Service of the BreastCheck Programme Report for 2011-2012. The report outlines the significant advances that have been made by BreastCheck in recent years and demonstrates the contribution that the continued investment in screening has made to outcomes such as improving cancer survival rates. Breast cancer survival is now estimated at 80.7% (2004-2007), up from 75.1% (1998-2002).
The health services continue to experience very significant budgetary challenges alongside increased demands for services. The savings targets to be achieved by the HSE are required in order to meet the Government's fiscal targets. However, the BreastCheck Programme Report acknowledges that while there are challenges in the context of limited resources, the National Cancer Control Programme and the National Screening Service are committed to the continued provision of a world-class breast screening programme, which delivers a reduction in mortality from breast cancer for women in Ireland.
In addition, my Department commissioned an Efficiency Review of the BreastCheck Screening Programme in order to prepare for the age extension of BreastCheck to women up to the age of 69 years, as provided for in the Programme for Government. The review makes a number of recommendations on how the screening process could be enhanced to increase the number screened. My Department will continue to work with the HSE to ensure that national priorities and Programme for Government commitments are met.