Staff woes hit breast-screening

Sonja Dillon
Sonja Dillon
Staff shortages mean that, for the next few weeks, the Otago District Health Board breast-care service will book only urgent diagnostic mammograms.

Diagnostic and support services group manager Sonja Dillon said routine screening mammograms would continue, but the staff shortage would limit the number of women joining the programme.

The service is short by the equivalent of 1.5 radiologists and its complement of medical radiation technologists, which should number more than eight, is down 3.5 full-time jobs.

The board is getting help from a Canterbury radiologist and may also get extra help from other private providers.

Ms Dillon said women who had expected to have diagnostic mammograms as part of their ongoing treatment and were worried delays could affect specialist appointments already booked should contact the service or their specialist.

Anybody worried they had symptoms of breast cancer should contact their general practitioner immediately.

Women without symptoms wanting to join the screening programme should still contact the service and ask to be put on the waiting list.

Staff shortages have dogged the service for some time, but Ms Dillon said the screening programme had carried out higher numbers of mammograms than planned during the past financial year.

The programme was up to date with its recalls of women in Otago.

The mobile screening unit which visits centres in Otago and Southland had done 230 mammograms for recalled women and 193 for new patients in June, so the service was performing "remarkably well".


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