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Councillor Mary Howard at the BreastCheck clinic in Ennis. Pic: Arthur Ellis

Howard warns BreastCheck backlog will take longer than three years to clear

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*Cllr Mary Howard. Photograph: Arthur Ellis

Women that were due to get mammograms last March have yet to receive a call back following cancellations.

All BreastCheck appointments were cancelled in March on account of COVID-19, in October some services resumed but it was flagged that it could take three years to clear the backlog of 153,000 women at the time awaiting mammograms.

This number was referenced by Cllr Mary Howard (FG) at the January meeting of Clare County Council when she appealed to the local authority to contact Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (FF) on the matter. She wanted the Minister to “make breast screening in all private hospitals free to all women and utilise all available resources and facilities to ensure the best outcomes for all women”.

Cllr Howard informed the meeting that her own mammogram was due to be held two days after the services stopped last March, she has received no call back yet regarding a re-scheduled appointment. She outlined that the mobile units had not reopened.

She added, “The HSE are negotiating with private hospitals for intensive care facilities, part of that conversation should include Breastcheck”. The Mayor of Clare referred to the expected three year backlog and believed it would take even longer, “these are your wives, your daughters and your sisters,” Howard emphasised.

A “rapid” growth in the amount of women in their late thirties and early forties receiving breast cancer diagnosis has been apparent in recent years, Cllr Ann Norton (IND) said. She noted the importance of the BreastCheck service. “I would have always gone to the Galway Clinic myself for mammograms, now there is a backlog there so it unfortunately isn’t just BreastCheck, it is happening in the private clinics as well,” the Barefield representative commented.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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