Deirdre O'Connell & Dympna Watson with Minister HarneyDeirdre O'Connell & Dympna Watson with Minister HarneyAt a meeting on Tuesday 21 September Europa Donna Ireland (EDI), the Irish Breast Cancer Campaign, urged the Minister for Health and Children Ms Mary Harney TD to expedite as much as possible the introduction of inspection and licensing for private hospitals that treat breast cancer patients.

Briefing the Minister on the activities that EDI are planning to mark Breast Health Day on 15th of October, EDI said the organisation has concerns about private facilities that are treating women for breast cancer.  Ms Deirdre O'Connell, Vice Chairperson of EDI, said it was imperative that licensing comes as quickly as possible.  “We are pleased this Minister for Health is planning to introduce the legislation.  We urged her to get it passed as fast as she can as it is vital for the health of women.  We will be urging all the Opposition Parties during October to back the legislation and get it through as quickly as is possible.  These hospitals must comply with the National Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease Services in the same way as the 8 specialist public hospital centres.

The HIQA review of standards in breast cancer centres did not cover private facilities and it is imperative that there is a licensing system and accreditation in place for all such facilities.  Private facilities need to be subject to ongoing independent assessment of performance relative to national standards.  Without HIQA or licensing, private facilities lack ongoing independent assessment of the quality and safety of breast cancer services.  Such independent assessment would be a major reassurance to patients and their families who need to be certain that the same requirements in relation to standards apply in private hospitals as apply in the public system. We welcome Minister Harney’s announcement last week that the HIQA standards will underpin the hospital licensing regime that will be introduced in 2012 and we look forward to this introduction to the Irish Health Care System.”

EDI also briefed the Minister on its Breast Health Day plans.