25/03/2019

Breast Assessment Centres To Be Reduced To Three Locations

Appointments for breast assessments will soon be available at less hospital sites in Northern Ireland under new proposals to consolidate services and reduce waiting times.

The Department of Health has launched a consultation on the plan which would see the service focused to three locations- Altnagelvin Hospital in L'Derry, the Antrim Area Hospital and a site in greater Belfast, likely to be the Ulster Hospital.

It comes amid a rapid review of breast surgery, with waiting times for breast assessments set to worsen as demand increases.

Assessment centres provide a 'one stop' clinic for patients. They deal with referrals for breast symptoms which may be suggestive of cancer, known as symptomatic referrals. Also covered are referrals from breast screening mammography tests that indicated the need for follow-up assessment.

The overhaul aims to establish a model of care which will ensure high quality, safe, sustainable, accessible and timely services.
News Image
Richard Pengelly, Department of Health Permanent Secretary, said: "We have listened carefully to patient voices and it is very clear that timely access to care is the overriding priority. The way breast assessment services are currently delivered is becoming increasingly fragile.

"Staffing challenges are an important factor behind these pressures and demand for care, including urgent referrals for suspected cancer, is increasing.

"Sticking with the current model would mean ongoing and worsening vulnerability, with deteriorating waiting times for assessment. That would simply be unacceptable.

"Consolidating care on three sites means we can provide durable and quality services, for the benefit of patients and staff."

A centralised appointment booking system is also planned, as well as a regional Breast Assessment Network to shape and support provision for the people of Northern Ireland.

The consultation opened today, Monday 25 March and will run for 12 weeks until Monday 17 June.



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 March 2020
Covid-19: Surge Plan Measures Revealed
The Department of Health is implementing a number of surge plan measures to manage the growing transmission of Covid-19 across Northern Ireland. Two key measures in the plan are the purchase of 40 new ventilators to boost availability to 179 by the end of March and the acceleration of testing to 800 per day.
18 March 2020
Woman Arrested In Patient Abuse Probe
A 28 year-old woman has been arrested by detectives investigating allegations of ill-treatment at Muckamore Abbey Hospital. The suspect was detained in Antrim this morning, Wednesday 18 March. It comes amid allegations of patient abuse at the facility, where people with severe learning disabilities and mental health needs are cared for.
09 January 2020
Latest Cancer Waiting Times Spark Calls For Action
An Ulster Unionist MLA has reiterated calls for the UK Government to step in and take action on health matters following publication of the latest cancer waiting times. Official figures released by the Department of Health reveal that in September 2019, 48.
09 May 2019
Appeal For Public Engagement With Breast Services Consultation
The Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride is appealing to the public to respond and engage with the ongoing consultation on breast cancer assessment services in Northern Ireland.
05 August 2005
Concern as two breast clinics close
Two breast clinics in Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone are to close despite concerns that waiting lists in the province are astronomically high. The clinics at the Erne and Tyrone County Hospitals will close though it has emerged that 269 patients were currently waiting for appointments. In one case a woman waited nine months for an appointment.