** High Priority **
Media Release Date: 29 February 2008
Staff Shortage In Breast Screening Programme
Health Board is struggling to keep up with demand for breast screening in the region.
The board provides breast screening every two years to women aged 45-69 as part of BreastScreen Aotearoa, the free national breast screening programme.
Waikato DHB screening manager Clare Coles today said a number of initiatives were in place to manage the situation.
A working party has been set up to co-ordinate medical radiation technologist recruitment and retention within the Waikato DHB region and this group is currently developing a scholarship programme to entice people to train in the field.
"A number of incentives are being offered to prospective overseas technologists, including relocation packages and a scholarship proposal to attract student technologists into mammography once they are qualified," said Mrs Coles.
"We're also investigating the opportunity of having links with international universities to train more."
The workforce shortage was not solely a local issue, but a national and international one as well, said Mrs Coles.
"We are working hard to counteract that, and have a number of initiatives in place to improve the situation for Waikato women," said Mrs Coles.
"We urge eligible women to enrol in the programme but the priority at this time would be to screen women aged between 45 and 69 who had already had screening," she said.
Mrs Coles said it was important that women who feel or notice anything unusual about their breasts, at any time, should contact their GP immediately rather than wait for the mobile unit to return to their town in the routine 20-24 months.
"We will be offering equal access to Waikato women regardless of where they live. Women will be prioritised according to Breast Screen Aotearoa criteria."
GPs received letters from Waikato DHB today and women individually contacted from next week.