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.

The patient focused recommendations include:

• a dedicated network to support breast assessment services

• the development of a three centres delivery model to maximise the resources available

• a central regional booking system to ensure that all patients referred will be seen according to their clinical priority and in chronological order, to ensure that no matter where a patient lives they receive the same level of service.

In an urgent appeal for involvement, Dr McBride said that no change is "not a realistic or responsible option".

"Unless we make changes, increasing numbers of women will face long anxious delays in finding out if they have cancer. We simply cannot tolerate such a situation."
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The Department of Health is calling on patients, their families, HSC staff and the general public to submit their views to the consultation. Dr McBride continued: "If anyone has better evidence-based proposals about how to build the resilience of this service, maintaining it in the future and deliver a standard level of care across Northern Ireland we want to hear them.

"In the past 10 years, despite herculean efforts by staff across all Trusts, there have only been twelve months in which services have been able to meet the 14 day target in NI. In the past five years, we have only met it in two months.

"The proposals are also about strengthening services for the future, in anticipation of increased demand for breast assessment. A surge in the incidence of cancer is projected for forthcoming years, reflecting the growing older population in our society.

"It would be irresponsible to avoid decisions now, in the knowledge that services could be overwhelmed in future by an inability to cope with demand."

The consultation on Reshaping Breast Assessment Services can be found on the department's website. Submissions will be welcomed until 19 July 2019.

A review of breast treatment services will also begin in the near future with the objective of developing proposals to improve resilience and deliver a standard level of patient access.


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