The health minister says additional clinics are planned to catch up after breast screenings were temporarily suspended.

Douglas North MHK John Wannenburgh tabled an urgent question this morning on why routine breast screening has been suspended.

Manx Care’s breast screening service is not currently offering appointments, health bosses announced last week.

It has been suspended while updates are made to the programme.

Mr Wannenburgh asked Health Minister Lawrie Hooper how many people will be affected by the suspension, what the timetable is for recommencement of the service, and what updates to the programme are being undertaken.

Mr Hooper explained that information is passed to a team in Manchester once patients have had a mammogram.

He said that Manx Care suspended the service two weeks ago so arrangements can be made to bring it up to standard by linking up the mammography systems.

‘The benefits of the new arrangements outweigh temporary suspension of the service,’ the minister said.

He added that around 10% of women undergoing screening require additional tests, which doesn’t necessarily mean they have cancer.

In fact, half a percent of women screened will have cancer, Mr Hooper said.

The service should have been updated by February 24 and Mr Hooper hopes to have the breast screenings up and running again the following week.

The Isle of Man is ‘already in excess’ of what is done in the UK, in that the island screens women every two years, whereas in the UK it is done every three years.

The health minister felt additional clinics would be enough to catch up with anyone missed during the temporary suspension.

Mr Wannenburgh argued that notice of the suspension wasn’t clear, stating that it had caused ‘great anxiety and alarm’.

Mr Hooper said the press release was clear the suspension from February 1 was temporary.

He said: ‘It wasn’t an issue until it became an issue.’

He added that there was ‘unhelpful speculation’ on social media which spurred Manx Care to put out a press release.

A spokesperson said as part of the announcement: ‘Anyone who is due to have a routine two-yearly screening mammogram will receive an invitation in due course.

‘Symptomatic breast clinics are unaffected and continue to run as normal.’

Manx Care, which runs the health service at arm’s length from the government, advises people who feel they may have a breast problem at this time to contact their GP.

For further queries, contact the breast screening team on 642570.