Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (240)

Liz McManus

Ceist:

316 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children when breast screening is to be in place for women, who in the west and south are at a serious disadvantage in not having breast cancer identified at an early and curable stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3572/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

The national roll-out of BreastCheck, which I announced last year, requires detailed planning to include essential infrastructure. The BreastCheck clinical unit in the southern area will be located at South Infirmary, Victoria Hospital, with three associated mobile units. Counties covered include Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Waterford and Tipperary south riding. The BreastCheck clinical unit in the western area will be at University College Hospital, Galway, with two associated mobile units. The area of coverage is counties Galway, Sligo, Roscommon, Donegal, Mayo, Leitrim, Clare and Tipperary North Riding. Two capital project teams, one in each region, have been established to develop a brief for the capital infrastructure needed for the static units in the south and west. The South Infirmary considered it necessary to commission a site strategy study to ensure the integration of the breast screening service into the present and future development of the hospital.

In 2004, my Department made available a capital grant of €230,000 for a site strategy study to be undertaken by professional architectural, engineering and quantity surveying experts on behalf of the hospital. It is expected that this study will be completed in March and April 2004. BreastCheck submitted a number of options for the construction of a static unit on the grounds of University College Hospital, Galway. This is being considered by my Department in the context of the framework for capital investment between 2004 and 2008 and is being discussed with the Department of Finance at present.

An essential element of the roll-out of the programme is investment in education and training of radiographers in particular. BreastCheck employs qualified and experienced radiographers who have specialised postgraduate training and qualifications related to mammography. BreastCheck and the symptomatic services combined have a significant ongoing recruitment and training requirement in this area. I also announced the development of a training centre for radiographers and mammography at Eccles Street. Resources are being made available to BreastCheck to support this initiative which will cost in excess of €750,000 and the centre is expected to be completed in the second half of 2004. Any woman irrespective of her age or residence who has immediate concerns or symptoms should contact her GP who, where appropriate, will refer her to the symptomatic services in her area.