State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has called on the NSW Health Minister to ensure breast screen services have the staff to cope with increased demand following a large drop in breast screens in 2021.
The number of breast screens across the Hunter fell by more than 22% in 2021, when compared with 2019 figures.
Much of this was due to COVID-19 restrictions and the BreastScreen NSW Clinics being closed for up to 16 weeks in some cases.
As clinics have reopened, staff and the general public have seen delays in getting an appointment due to a continued backlog from the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Ms Hornery will raise concerns from local residents about the risk of delayed appointments and ask the Health Minister to increase staff to clear the back log of appointments.
“One in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, but when it is picked up early, most women will recover and can quickly get back to normal life,” Ms Hornery said.
“Currently there is still a large backlog of women waiting for an appointment and BreastScreen NSW are still only taking bookings from women who had their appointment cancelled during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“I have spoken with women who are concerned at the delays and what that might mean for them.
“For some women, they had their appointment cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and then again in 2021 due to the shutdowns.
“These women are still waiting for appointments and for some it will have been 3 years since their last screen when they are finally done.
“As you can imagine, there is a lot of angst and worry for people who have a family or personal history of breast cancer.
“I am calling on the Health Minister to do what he can to ensure the back log is cleared as quickly as possible and bring on additional staff to get it done.
“Early detection is critical to ensuring patients have the best chances of cure and we must ensure women are seen as soon as possible,” said Ms Hornery.