15 Dec 2011

Lobby group upset at review findings

12:28 pm on 15 December 2011

A women's health lobby group says two independent reviews have identified the same shortcomings in the national breast screening unit.

The unit, which is part of the Ministry of Health on Wednesday issued a review of the programme and its management of it.

The review backed concerns about resignations of key personnel from the unit and the effect on the breast-screening programme.

Auckland Women's Health Council coordinator Lynda Williams says a similar review this year of the national cervical screening programme, which is also under the unit, highlighted similar problems.

She says it is appalling.

A series of resignations at the ministry sparked the independent review of the national breast cancer screening programme.

The resignations involved the clinical leader, the quality information and national data manager, a public health physician and strategic advisor, a communications advisor, a senior policy analyst, a quality and equity manager and a biostatistician.

The review found there has been a loss of important clinical skills and experience and the programme must be redeveloped.

The review was prompted by a letter from clinical directors of organisations providing breast screening services.

They told Health Minister Tony Ryall there had been nine resignations from the National Screening Unit that manages screening since late 2009.

The review says restructuring and down-sizing led to a loss of the clinical skills needed to run the programme, unsettled staff, reduced recruitment and fractured relationships with screening agencies.