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Breast screening extension misses start date

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokeswoman

1 July 2004

Breast screening extension misses start date

National's Health spokeswoman, Dr Lynda Scott, says the hard-fought extension to the eligibility age for free mammograms should have come into effect today.

"But it is now clear that promises of a July 1 start date were nothing more than rhetoric by the Health Minister."

Thousands of women nationwide joined opposition political parties over the past year to campaign for an extension of the eligibility age for free mammograms. The Government conceded an extension from 50-64-year-olds to cover 45-69-year-olds, which was supposed to come into force today.

"But instead, women are being turned away from screening they are entitled," says Dr Scott.

"By not providing adequate resources to Breast Screening Aotearoa the Government is letting the women down.

"While an extension to the eligibility age was a great victory over the Government, we need to ensure the maximum number of women can get screened.

"To do that we must use the private sector, as well as the public sector."

Dr Scott hopes the Government will further extend eligibility to the 40-45 age group and review the frequency which at-risk age groups can be screened, in light of upcoming research.

"A major British study, due for release at the end of the year, will give us more information on how frequently under 50-year-olds need mammograms.

"In order to save lives we need to be doing all we can to ensure early detection of breast cancer," Dr Scott said.

ENDS

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