BCAC forges closer relationship with BreastScreen Aotearoa
BCAC chair, Libby Burgess, recently met with BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA) representatives - Jacqui Akuhata-Brown (Group Leader, National Screening Unit (NSU)), Marli Gregory (newly appointed Clinical Leader, BSA), Barbara Irwin (Programme Leader, BSA) and Deborah Harris (Corporate Services Manager, BSA).
That meeting follows another earlier this year, with the aims of further strengthening the relationship between BCAC and BSA; establishing good, frequent communication to ensure BCAC is kept up to date with developments and issues; being informed of progress in reaching screening targets; offering consumer representation; and discovering whether BSA will distribute the BCAC Step by Step support pack at their breast cancer diagnosis appointments.
A priority in the BSA workplan is to implement a centralised digital mammography picture archiving communication system (PACS) as part of the implementation of digital mammography throughout the programme. BCAC supports this initiative in the government-funded national screening programme. The NSU is also working with providers to upgrade and rationalise the BSA information system, which will migrate all BSA Lead Providers to a centralised shared environment for their radiology information systems. It is expected that all providers will be using the same version of the software by the end of the year.
It is also expected that all BSA lead providers will have implemented digital mammography by 2013. This will be a significant undertaking for some providers due to the capital expense associated with digital machinery. BCAC would like to see the Ministry of Health provide assistance to DHBs to put digital machines in place. As of now, four of the eight BSA screening providers use digital technology.
BCAC supports the latest BSA policy development investigating whether to screen women over 70 years of age. A position paper is being formulated, looking at evidence from Australia and UK. BSA is also keeping a watching brief on emerging technologies not yet established on an evidence basis – e.g. computerised reading systems for breast scans (CAD), new types of digital mammography that show vasculature, elastography (tumours are less elastic than normal tissue), and breast density measurement.
Libby presented BSA with a copy of our Step by Step support pack and requested that packs be distributed at the point of diagnosis by BSA staff and those who support women through their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. BSA is now investigating this possibility.