Breast-screening replacement may be better

Women in Otago and Southland migh receive a better quality breast-screening service by a different provider than the present health board service, which is ''limping along'', Federation of Women's Health Councils co-convener Barbara Robson says.

Ms Robson, of Feilding, who is also a MidCentral District Health Board member, said women needed to be engaged and informed about next year's service change.

Southern District Health Board is opting out of breast-screening because of a shortage of radiologists.

''The Federation of Women's Health Councils has been aware that BreastScreen Healthcare has been limping along for quite some time, so is not unduly surprised SDHB has decided to exit the provision of the service.

''SDHB's decision to exit the service is not necessarily bad news. In fact, Otago-Southland women could end up with a better service, if the right provider comes along.

''The new provider will need to demonstrate a good understanding of the distances that some women in the region are required to travel to access services,'' Ms Robson said.

A request for the BreastScreen Aotearoa tender was released to the Government's electronic tenders service website on Monday. Tenders close on November 22. The contract would be awarded early next year, followed by a five-month transition period, before the new provider took full control on August 1.

Otago and Southland has 47,555 women aged between 45 and 69 eligible for the free two-yearly screening, with at least 70% expected to take part.

The provider must have a strong relationship with the health board, to which women diagnosed with cancer would be referred for treatment, the document said.

Pacific Radiology Group Ltd, which provides screening for the rest of the South Island, owns Otago Radiology, and is expected to submit a tender.

Otago Radiology general manager Paul Morrison indicated the company would consider tendering, but he could not comment further when contacted yesterday. In the North Island, health boards have mostly retained provision of breast-screening.



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