Northern Ireland proposes closures to breast cancer centers

The Northern Ireland Department of Health is proposing the closure of two breast cancer centers, reducing the number in the region from five to three, according to a BBC report.

The department says the proposal will benefit women by consolidating breast care services, which will translate into quicker consultations, even though some women may have to travel farther, the BBC reported. Under the proposal, breast cancer assessment centers at hospitals in Altnagelvin, Antrim, and Ulster would remain open, while centers in Belfast and Craigavon would close.

The proposal, which is open for public comment for 12 weeks, comes amid concerns that women are already enduring longer than acceptable wait times for breast cancer follow-up exams, the BBC said. In November, the BBC reported that only 11.9% of women with urgent breast cancer referrals were seen within 14 days, and in February, it reported that less than a quarter of these types of referrals were seen within that time frame.

Under the new scheme, there would be a centralized booking system, and women would be able to choose to travel farther to get an earlier appointment, the BBC said.

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