To Health Spokespersons
Europa Donna Ireland is one of 46 member countries of EUROPA DONNA – The European Breast Cancer Coalition and we have campaigned for a number of years for access by women in Ireland to evidence-based breast cancer diagnosis, care and treatment. We are very pleased with the implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme and we wish to see its progress continue with the resources required, in order to further improve survival rates and early detection of breast and all other cancers.
There are two issues which we believe require immediate attention by the incoming government:
• Breast screening: Ireland has an excellent screening programme with one flaw – it does not extend to women over 65. There is very good evidence that screening to the age of 70 is beneficial and increasing evidence to warrant screening to 75. We want to see this extension implemented immediately and for BreastCheck to continue to review any new evidence as regards screening of younger women.
• Inspection and licensing of private hospitals: We are aware that legislation was in the pipeline to cover the inspection and licensing of private hospitals and we strongly urge that this legislation be taken up speedily by the new government. It is imperative that these hospitals comply with the National Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease Services in the same way as the 8 specialist public hospital centres. The HIQA review of standards in breast cancer centres did not cover private facilities and they need to be subject to ongoing independent assessment of performance relative to national standards. Without HIQA or licensing, private facilities lack ongoing independent assessment of the quality and safety of breast cancer services and women lack reassurance as to their safety and guarantee of best practice.
Europa Donna Ireland is happy to discuss these issues or any other matters relevant to breast cancer services with you at any time. We hope that, as a well informed and active patient advocacy group, we will be included in any discussion relating to policy and practice under the new government.
Acting Chairwoman EDI