15 Oct 2013

Southern DHB to drop breast screening

8:17 pm on 15 October 2013

The Southern District Health Board is promising women in the region will not be left without breast screening services when it withdraws in 2014.

The board has confirmed it will not renew its contract to offer screening in Otago and Southland from July next year because it cannot recruit the radiologists and clinical leader it needs.

The Ministry of Health says it will begin the process to find a new provider in about two weeks' time.

Southern DHB's executive director of patient services Lexie O'Shea says the transition will be seamless from the patient's perspective.

Ms O'Shea says there is absolutely no danger that southern women will be left without screenings. She says she wishes the DHB could have continued, but the service was not sustainable.

In September, the board warned that it might drop its contract with the national programme Breast Screen Aotearoa because it could not retain enough radiologists to keep the service safe and sustainable.

The move was prompted by the withdrawal of the Counties Manukau DHB withdrawing from helping the Otago and Southland service to interpret second and third screening results.

Southern DHB says the national screening unit will be tendering the country's smallest service to a new provider from July next year.