BSC delivers breast screening services for the three greater Wellington DHBs – Hutt Valley, Capital & Coast, and Wairarapa. The DHBs are reviewing 52 cases where the delay may have possibly affected people’s treatment or prognosis.
“The safety of people participating in the national breast screening programme is our priority, and we are currently carrying out a clinical review of these cases to determine the full impact on affected people and whānau,” said Hutt Valley DHB and Capital & Coast DHB Chief Executive Fionnagh Dougan.
“We sincerely apologise to these people and whānau for any distress they may experience while we carry out this review. We are engaging with them and, along with other organisations in the community, are providing all the support that we can.
“The factors leading up to this pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic and, upon learning of this matter, we implemented a full and comprehensive review. BSC has also cleared the backlog of people by increasing the number of clinics, outsourcing mammography services, and ensuring that those who have waited the longest were booked into available appointments.”
Anyone who is concerned about a symptom in their breast should make an appointment with their GP, who will be able to refer them for further assessment if required.
Members of the public in the Hutt Valley, Capital & Coast and Wairarapa regions who have concerns or questions related to breast screening can call 0800 727 330.
**Due to obligations under the Privacy Act and the Health Information Privacy Code, the 2DHBs are not able to comment publicly about individual cases. Similarly, it is not possible to comment further on the review of these cases as it is ongoing and it would not be appropriate to speculate about or pre-empt any developments or findings.This means that the 2DHBs do not have anything further to add to this statement.**
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Points of clarification
- How many people experienced delays in being offered a mammogram and over what period?
Analysis has shown approximately 6,000 people in the Hutt Valley, Wairarapa and Wellington regions waited longer than the usual 60 working days from enrolment to being offered an appointment for mammography between 2017 and 2021. The DHBs are currently reviewing 52 cases where the delay may possibly have affected their treatment and prognosis. All 52 people have been contacted.
- Why are these people only learning of this now?
The people who have been contacted are already aware of their breast cancer diagnosis and have been receiving treatment for some time. This week they are being made aware that they had waited longer than the usual 60 working days to be offered their mammogram and a review is underway to determine if, or to what extent, this delay may have impacted on their treatment and prognosis.
- Is this delay due to COVID-19?
The period of time during which these people experienced a delay is from 2017 to 2021, which means it pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic. A small number of the 52 cases being reviewed relate to the period after COVID-19 first emerged. Questions about the national backlog of 49,780 screens to reach the national target of 70 percent coverage are best directed to the National Screening Unit.