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BreastCheck data used for educational exercise: 2002 to 2018

An independent expert report into interval cancers in breast screening was published in October 2020.

It found that our BreastCheck screening service was operating to the best international standards, reducing deaths from breast cancer by around
120 per year.

The report recommended that datasheets used for educational purposes be treated in line with data protection laws as they were no longer needed and contained personal patient information.

Read the expert reference group report into interval cancers in breast screening (106 pages, 2.6mb, PDF)

Why we are telling you about this

Your breast screening information may have been used for a BreastCheck educational exercise if you:

  1. had breast screening between 2002 and 2018, and
  2. later developed an interval cancer in-between routine screening check-ups

This exercise was for education and training purposes involving BreastCheck clinical staff. It was done so that we could meet the European standards for breast screening and was completed in 2018. We carry out these educational exercises so that we can improve breast screening.

Datasheets using your personal data were created as part of this exercise. We no longer need these datasheets and are going to dispose of them. It is our practice to dispose of personal information we no longer need. This is to protect your privacy and comply with data protection laws (GDPR).

We are letting you know this is happening in case you would like to request a copy of this data before we dispose of it.

You can request a copy up until 10 January 2022. After that date, we will dispose of your data.

Personal data we held

The personal data on these datasheets included your:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • date of diagnosis
  • screening history

The datasheet did not include your mammogram.

Your personal information was not shared with anyone outside BreastCheck.

This exercise was done so that we could meet the European standards for breast screening. It was completed in 2018.

Your healthcare record is not affected

These datasheets are not part of your healthcare record.

Nothing in your screening healthcare record will be changed or deleted. Your healthcare record is not affected by this.

Read more about the HSE data protection policy

Check if your personal data was used

Find out if we hold educational exercise information about you and request a copy of this information by writing to us before 10 January 2022.

We may have used your information if you had breast screening between 2002 and 2018 and later developed an interval cancer.

We did not use your information if you:

  • did not develop an interval cancer
  • did not attend screening during that time period
  • do not have breast cancer
  • were diagnosed with breast cancer during a screening check-up

Request a copy of your datasheet

Request a copy of your datasheet by writing to us by post or email:

BreastCheck Programme Manager,
National Screening Service,
King's Inns House,
200 Parnell Street,
Dublin 1,
D01 A3Y8

The deadline to request a copy of your datasheet is 10 January 2022.

You can request a copy if you are a BreastCheck participant.

You will need to provide your:

  1. name
  2. address
  3. date of birth
  4. contact phone number
  5. ID – a scanned copy or a photocopy of your passport, driver's license or public services card.

Let us know exactly what you wish to access, for example, if you want:

  • all your BreastCheck records
  • only specific records
  • your information datasheet from this educational exercise

We will send you your records within 30 days when we have all the information we need.

We will contact you if we need any more information.

If your data should not be disposed of

If you believe there is a good reason why we should not dispose of your data and should continue to hold it, write to us and explain why before 10 January 2022.

Educational exercises: what happens

During an educational exercise, doctors look at the information they have for people who later developed a condition or disease.

They do this to see what they can learn from the information and to help them improve patient care.

Educational exercises regularly happen in healthcare services across Ireland and the world.

BreastCheck educational exercise

This educational exercise was part of our quality assurance process.

We looked back at the screening images (mammogram) of women who went on to develop an interval cancer - a breast cancer diagnosis between cancer screening tests - between 2002 and 2018.

We used those mammograms to teach and learn so that we can improve patient care.

This exercise was overseen by the European Reference Organisation for Quality Assured Breast Screening and Diagnostic Services (EUREF).

We kept the information datasheets created for this exercise as proof that teaching and learning had taken place. These datasheets included your personal details, but they did not include your mammogram.

The information from the exercise:

  • did not have an impact on your care or treatment
  • was not part of an audit
  • was not used to measure the performance of BreastCheck
  • was not shared with anyone outside of the exercise

Your data protection rights and educational exercises

BreastCheck’s educational exercise took place before the GDPR law was introduced in 2018.

To comply with GDPR we cannot keep your personal data:

  • for longer than we need
  • if it is no longer needed for the reason it was created

If it is not needed, data for educational exercises must be securely disposed of within 2 years.

Read more about the HSE's data protection policies

Contact us about data protection

Contact the HSE data protection officer

page last reviewed: 18/11/2021
next review due: 18/11/2024