Fine Gael Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon has today (Friday) said that it is imperative we extend the successful Breastcheck programme to women over 65 in order to save more lives.

“Today I submitted my pre-budget submission on health issues to Minister Leo Varadkar highlighting the need to have Breastcheck extended to women over 65. There are many demands on the Health budget at present but this extension is critical in my opinion.

“The Breastcheck programme, has been incredibly successful in Ireland so far and has the trust and confidence of the public. However unfortunately it is not yet reaching everyone. According to the Irish Cancer Society, the incidence of female breast cancer and deaths from breast cancer is second highest amongst the 60-69 age group. Only half of this group is currently covered by Breastcheck.

“Every family knows somebody who has been touched by breast cancer. The cost of extending Breastcheck is only in the region of €3 million and I have urged the Minister to consider it as part of his budgetary negotiations.

“As part of my submission I have also asked him to review the Fair Deal Scheme, and to consider putting community care services such as home help and home care packages on a statutory legal footing. This would help the many carers and elderly people being cared for in their own homes. In addition I have asked Minister Varadkar to urge his colleague Minister Alan Kelly to contribute more to the housing adaptation grant scheme to allow small works to be carried out in more homes.

“This is a challenging time for the Minister for Health with many calls on his budget but I believe the above changes would help to improve in small ways the lives of those facing illness or concerned as to how to look after loved ones.”