BreastCheck: may be 'months' before screening service returns to normal
"The bottom line is our doors are open for anybody with symptoms"
By Clodagh Meaney
It may be months before BreastCheck screenings are back to normal following COVID-19 lockdown, that's according to the clinical director of BreastCheck.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Professor Ann O’Doherty said that screening is on hold but encouraged people with concerning lumps to visit a clinic as soon as possible.
"There are a lot of women out there with lumps who are afraid at the moment, and we're encouraging them to come in," she said.
“We're nothing like as productive as we would be in the normal environment. We have to catch up.”
Professor O'Doherty explained that a lot of their patients are of age to be cocooning at the moment.
“A lot of our women are up towards 69, the age at which they should be cocooning. The first week of the pandemic all of our staff were in and we were looking after those women."
“Then the next thing was there were women with lumps who we couldn't look after in the hospitals. We actually changed, for the first time ever since the foundation of the screening programme, to look after women with symptoms," she explained.
“While screening is absolutely vital, it's healthy women and if women come for screening we can reduce the number of women dying in this country by 20%."
Professor O'Doherty said it's a matter of balancing risk and productivity as there is a risk to healthy patients.
“The bottom line is our doors are open for anybody with symptoms. We're doing our very best. We will get back to screening as soon as we possibly can," she said.