Girls, Nina's not coming back

BreastScreen Victoria's mobile screening service will no longer visit Kyneton and Gisborne.

BreastScreen Victoria's mobile screening service will no longer visit Kyneton and Gisborne.

Women will have to take up to a 130-kilometre round trip to access a breast screening service that previously arrived locally via vans named Nina and Marjorie. 

BreastScreen Victoria sent letters out this month to explain its mobile screening service would no longer visit Kyneton and Gisborne, and instead would be replaced by a permanent clinic outside the shire. 

In the letter, BreastScreen Victoria CEO Vicki Pridmore said the permanent clinic in Sunbury would "improve access", and provide more flexibility to make an appointment.

Drummond resident Kaye Bricknall called it an insult. 

"I am at a loss as to how this improves the service for me," she said.

"It seems irrelevant to BreastScreen that to access this new service would require me to make a one-and-a-half-hour round trip.

"Again, regional Victorians are being penalised by services being centralised in Melbourne and surrounds, because Sunbury is not regional Victoria but a satellite to Melbourne."

BreastScreen Victoria spokesperson Jane Aubrey said the new Sunbury clinic was a service increase that would meet a 29 per cent population increase expected for the "Sunbury area" (including Kyneton and Gisborne). 

The mobile screening service only came to town once every two years, but it stayed for an average of 11.5 weeks and had above-average participation rates.

Of women aged 50-69 in the Gisborne and Kyneton districts, 63 and 59 per cent used the service respectively - higher than the state average of 54 per cent (stats: 2012-2014).

Women like Ms Bricknall will need to make a significantly longer trip to access the Sunbury BreastScreen Clinic now that Nina and Marjorie vans will no longer come to town. 

It is feared the time, cost, and inconvenience of travelling such a distance will deter women from undertaking often lifesaving breast scans as frequently as advised. 

Ms Aubrey said the organisation was prepared for an initial decline in participation. 

"Nobody likes change and traditionally our participation rates drop slightly when we change clinic locations whether they are mobile or fixed," she said.

"Over the course of two cycles those numbers then routinely catch up and surpass any previous figures.

"The benefit of having a fixed site in Sunbury means that the service is offered year round. Previously, women of Kyneton had a short window and so now an appointment can be booked at their convenience."

Ms Aubrey said the changes would not save money for BreastScreen Victoria but would allow the organisation to take its vans to other communities. 

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