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Patchy progress in breast screening

Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

15 July 2008

Patchy progress in breast screening

Young women continue to miss out in the Government-funded breast screening programme, says National Party Associate Health spokeswoman Jackie Blue.

“The international target is to screen 70% of all eligible women. But up to June last year, only slightly more than 40% of women aged 45-49 are being checked.”

Dr Blue, a former breast physician, is commenting on information released by the Minister in a parliamentary question.

“Around 60% of women aged between 50 and 69 are being checked, but in this age band Maori and Pacific women fare much worse, with only 43% being screened.

“The screening programme doesn’t collect the screening numbers for younger Maori and Pacific women.

“These figures show that four years after it was expanded, the programme is still struggling to cope with younger women.”

Dr Blue says there are also chunks of data missing. Figures for the June to December 2007 period are not available.

“To get an accurate picture, data needs to be collected on all groups and it needs to be as up to date as possible.

“It is estimated that to deliver on the promise of the programme, an extra 130 radiographers are needed.

“A number of innovative solutions have already been proposed, such as return to work options, simplifying registration, and training technicians to take mammograms.

“Why is Labour not acting on these? Or is this another thing being left until after the election?"


Attached: Parliamentary Question 05967- 4 pages

Parliamentary Question 05967

Subject: 05967 (2008) Published - Health - Normal Reply

Question: Further to the reply to question for written answer 13656 (2007) what are the coverage rates as a percentage of the eligible population, broken down by lead provider,and ethnicity for women 45 to 49 years , 49 to 64 years and 65 to 69 years for each 6 months from January 2005 to December 2007?

Portfolio: Health
Minister: Hon David Cunliffe
Date Lodged:19/06/2008

Answer Text: The attached tables show the coverage rates for each six months from January 2005 to June 2007. The BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA) Independent Monitoring Report for the period 1 July 2007 to 31 December 2007 is yet to be published.
From 1 July 2005, due to the reconfiguration of breast screening services in the Auckland and Northland region, coverage data for BreastScreen Waitemata Northland (BSWN), BreastScreen Auckland Ltd (BSAL) and BreastScreen Counties Manukau (BSCM) does not cover a full 24-month screening period and is therefore not presented.
The gaps in the tables reflect changes in the way these data are reported following the implementation of the BSA age extension, 1 July 2004.

Attachment: 5967 attachment.xls

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