Women who are higher risk are being prioritised by BreastCheck as the service resumes at a reduced capacity.

The National Screening Service is working with finite staffing resources, with some units closed due to Covid-19. The pandemic has led to a 90% drop in the number of tests carried out at LUH since March. The HSE estimates it will take up to three years to clear the current backlog nationally.

BreastCheck Unit at the Letterkenny Public Services Centre. Photo: Donegal Daily

BreastCheck services will open on 4th January 2021. For the coming week, resources will be focused on women who are deemed to be at higher risk. These are women who are in the assessment phase of breast screening.

“We are asking women scheduled for a follow-up assessment from 4th January to continue to attend on the day and time given,” said a statement from BreastCheck.

“For all other women, we aim to continue routine breast screening from 11th January. We will keep this under review and in line with HSE and NPHET advice. We will update our website with any changes to our appointment schedules.”

Women who have booked for routine screening before January 11 will be contacted by their unit and offered a new appointment Women can still travel to screening appointments in another county under current restrictions.

Donegal Action for Cancer Care is urging all women to ensure they attend appointments when they are scheduled.

Betty Holmes, health campaigner with Donegal Action for Cancer Care

Betty Holmes, campaigner with the group, said: “For us in DACC it is so important to get this information out to ensure that women who are invited are aware of this.

“DACC worked hard so hard years ago to ensure Donegal women would have BreastCheck so we need to continue to make sure that women attend when they get an appointment.”

BreastCheck said: “It is taking us longer to screen due to Covid-19 restrictions. We are asking all women to come for their appointment when invited and if they are unable to attend to let us know so we can reschedule their appointment and offer this slot to someone else.

“We ask that people do not attend their appointment if they are unwell of self-isolating because they have symptoms of Covid-19. People should not attend either if they are a confirmed close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

“The safety of our participants and staff continues to be our highest priority at this time, Breast screening is for well women who do not have symptoms. Any woman who is worried about symptoms during this time should contact their GP for appropriate follow-up care.”

For further information, women can see www.breastcheck.ie ; Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or contact their unit directly on the number provided on their appointment invitation.