VITAL SERVICE: The Breast Screen van servicing the North Coast.
VITAL SERVICE: The Breast Screen van servicing the North Coast.

Anger over mobile BreastScreen cuts

SUSAN SKYVINGTON had a mammogram at 8.20am in Mullumbimby and was at work at Byron Bay High School before 9am.

But with the North Coast Area Health Service cutting the mobile breast screening service to the Byron Bay and Ballina area, the school counsellor says it will be harder to get checked for breast cancer.

“There are three big problems with this service cut,” Ms Skyvington said.

“First of all, having time to get to places like Lismore and Tweed Heads is a huge challenge when you’re working, especially if you are nine-to-five. Secondly, as you get older it’s hard to remember to have check-ups, so having the screening bus in town every two years serves as a reminder: Time for a mammogram.

“The third thing, having a mammogram in your own town reduces anxiety, instead of having to travel to a big impersonal clinic, (which is) another way to put women off the procedure.”

The Cancer Council of NSW North Coast manager, Patty Delaney, said while women in Byron Bay and Ballina could struggle to get a mammogram, Lismore and Tweed Heads had state-of-the-art technology for screening.

“The fixed sites have the most advanced equipment,” she said.

“Also, when women receive their breast screen reminder, a phone number is included called ‘transport for health’ for those with transport difficulties who are eligible, though the service is not free.”

A North Coast Area Health spokesperson said the mobile screening units had decreased from three to one, but denied the cuts were done to save money, saying there had been no cost savings. She failed to answer questions about why the service was cut.

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