Two brand new Breast Cancer Institute NSW (BCI) Sunflower Clinics were officially launched by the Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer) Hon. Jodi McKay at Blue Mountains and Mt Druitt hospitals on the 13th of July.Ms McKay, who also opened the first retail-based BCI Sunflower Clinic at Myer Parramatta earlier this year, said the NSW Government was committed to ensuring breast screen services are accessible for women across NSW and the clinics were among eight new breast screening clinics that had opened or were set to open across Sydney West in both hospital and retail sites.
“The state-of-the-art equipment in the new clinics is part of the State Government’s $26 million BreastScreen NSW rollout of new lifesaving digital mammography technology,” she said.
BCI Director, A/Prof John Boyages said women aged 50 years and over in the Blue Mountains and Mt Druitt areas could now access free mammograms without the need to wait for a mobile BreastScreen van to visit the area.
“The BCI Sunflower Clinics strategy is the first truly comprehensive breast cancer program linking screening, diagnosis, treatment and care that has been established to ensure that all women get the same high-quality standard of care.”
Since the introduction of screening in 1993 and the BCI in 1995, mortality rates in the Greater Western Sydney had fallen by 35%, the highest in NSW (average 21%), Professor Boyages said.
“The current screening rates in the Blue Mountains is 52% but the new clinic will provide a fixed weekly service and thus plan to increase this to 55% within 9-12 months.”
As well as the minister, the morning launch at the Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital in Katoomba was also attended by Member for Blue Mountains Phil Koperberg, Member for Penrith Karyn Paluzzano and local resident Beverley Greenhalgh who was diagnosed with early breast cancer through BreastScreen two years ago.
The minister then travelled to Mt Druitt Hospital to officially open the new clinic there and met Veronica Thompson, who is a patient with breast cancer at the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, and Veronica’s first cousin Rose Frail, an indigenous woman who had her first ever mammogram at the age of 58 just after the launch. Representatives of the Aboriginal Medical Service Mt Druitt also attended the launch.
Blacktown LGA had the lowest screening participation rate in western Sydney at 44% and also had the highest indigenous population in Sydney West, Prof Boyages said.
“While BreastScreen is especially for women aged 50 to 69 years, indigenous women aged 40 years and over are encouraged to get a mammogram.”
“The BCI is committed to making this vital service more accessible to more women by investing in the new clinic at Mt Druitt and at Myer Blacktown, which is opening later this year. We decided to invest in two clinics in this large LGA rather than just one machine in Blacktown as part of the new BCI Sunflower Clinic initiative.”
The clinic launches at both Blue Mountains and Mt Druitt hospitals were also attended by SWAHS executive staff including acting Chief Executive Bernard Deady and BCI management staff.
Professor Boyages said three more clinics were due to open later this year in Myer stores at Castle Hill, Penrith and Blacktown and a ninth clinic, in the form of a mobile breast screening van, was also set to be funded through the BCI’s Ray of Hope fundraising campaign, which was kicking off with its inaugural fundraising dinner on August 13 in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.