BreastCheck history

The establishment of BreastCheck

Following the success of a Pilot Eccles Breast Screening Programme in the early nineties, a Steering Group and Quality Assurance Committee were established in 1997 to report on the establishment of a national breast screening programme.

The National Breast Screening Board was established in 1998 as a joint health board initiative with the then Health Board CEOs serving as members of the National Breast Screening Board.

In 2005 the National Breast Screening Board was re-established. This followed the passage of the 2004 Health Act and the establishment of the Health Service Executive, which included abolishing the Health Boards and a number of specialist agencies.

The National Breast Screening Board was disbanded in December 2006 and became part of the then National Cancer Screening Service in January 2007. Today, BreastCheck is governed by the National Screening Service (NSS), which is part of the Health & Wellbeing division of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Phase one

BreastCheck began offering free breast screening to women aged 50 to 64 in the then Eastern Regional Health Authority, North Eastern and Midland Health Board areas in February 2000.

Extension to Wexford, Kilkenny and Carlow

In 2003 approval was given for the extension of BreastCheck to Wexford, Kilkenny and Carlow. Screening commenced in Wexford in March 2004. Screening was extended to women in Carlow in 2005 and in Kilkenny in May 2006.

The extension to the South East was enabled by the opening of a dedicated €5m Screening Unit on the campus of St. Vincent's University Hospital in March 2004.

The Eastern Area

The current screening area in the North East, East, Midlands and South East, is serviced by two Clinical Screening Units: the Eccles Unit on the campus of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and the Merrion Unit at St. Vincent's University Hospital. Attached to these Clinical Units are a total of six Mobile Screening Units. The area includes a target population of approximately 160,000 eligible women.

BreastCheck national expansion: phase two

On 5 May 2005, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., issued approval for the placing of a notice in the Official Journal of the European Communities to advertise for the appointment of a Design Team to work up detailed plans for the design and construction of the two new BreastCheck static clinical units, and new symptomatic unit in Galway. The total capital approved amounted to approximately €25 million.
The two units – BreastCheck Southern Unit and BreastCheck Western Unit commenced screening women in December 2007 and following initial screening introduced eight additional mobile units.


The BreastCheck Southern Unit is located adjacent to the South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, with four associated mobile screening units and will cover Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Waterford and Tipperary South Riding.
The BreastCheck Western Unit is located at the of University College Hospital Galway, with four associated mobile screening units and covers Counties, Donegal, Clare, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Tipperary North Riding. 57,588 women are in the target population or 28,794 per annum.

Please click here to view details of where BreastCheck is currently screening.

Extension of screening age

BreastCheck is being extended to include women aged 65 to 69 over the next six years, fulfilling an objective of the Programme for Governement. The first cohort of women aged 65 have already been invited for screening. By the end of 2021, all eligible women aged 50 to 69 will be invited for free routine mammograms as part of the BreastCheck programme.

Programme performance

BreastCheck's most recent report is the Programme Report 2009/10. This showed the programme to be performing to a high standard and included a consumer research report on women's experiences of using the service.


Click to view BreastCheck's Annual Reports