“I do not notice it myself – I am very lucky – but it is endemic in society,” she said.
Ms White told the Seanad that in October of last year Minister for Health Leo Varadkar had announced free BreastCheck screening would be rolled out for women between the ages of 65 years to 69. However, she had subsequently found it had been postponed.
“I am very disappointed,” she added. “I felt I was led astray when the announcement was made.” She described the postponement as “Irish ageism”.
Ms White said the Irish Cancer Society at the time welcomed the decision to make the necessary investment to ensure it was extended to women in that age group, estimating it would save a minimum of 87 women’s lives per year.
Mr Varadkar said because of the number of people who would be added to the breast screening service, and the fact that women were screened on a two-year cycle, the task of extending the age cohort was a major logistical and operational undertaking.
“This is why the age extension will be implemented on an incremental basis in line with the capacity of the service to manage the additional screening and follow-up workload,” he added.
Mr Varadkar said the national screening service would need to recruit and train additional radiographers, medical consultants and administrative support to accommodate increased demand for the programme.
“Funding for this and for additional mobile units and medical equipment will be made available across the implementation period,” he added.