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Breast cancer screening buses lie idle

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokeswoman

20 November 2003

Breast cancer screening buses lie idle

The six mobile breast-screening buses are lying idle when they could be saving more lives, says National's Health spokeswoman Dr Lynda Scott.

"Women outside the Government's 50 to 64 year age bracket are being denied access to free mammograms, and those prepared to pay are also being turned away.

"It's bureaucracy gone mad," says Dr Scott.

"The Government hasn't moved with the times. Only serving women in that strict age bracket ignores new evidence that shows extending the age limits on screening will save lives, and that's criminal," says Dr Scott.

"Many women are willing to pay to use the mobile service in their home town, but they are being forced to travel to major cities to get mammograms.

"Recently a 66-year-old Cromwell woman was turned away from a mobile unit after she had offered to pay for a 15 minute mammogram while no-one was waiting. She was told to go to Invercargill or Dunedin to get one.

"It makes no sense to force a pensioner to travel hundreds of kilometres for a service that could have been delivered closer to home, at virtually no cost to the taxpayer," says Dr Scott.

"Women know having a mammogram every two years will not only help with early detection, but it will also increase their rates of survival.

"Why should they have to face a double penalty by being denied the free service and then not even being able to pay to use the bus when it comes to town?

"I call on the Minister of Health to urgently change the access criteria, widening the age range, and let paying women use the service, says Dr Scott

Ends


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