For breast cancer screening to meet its goal of reducing breast cancer mortality, the screening process must include timely and appropriate surgical intervention.

The role of the surgeon commences during the assessment phase and continues through treatment and follow-up.

It is expected that surgeons in the programme will be closely involved with assessment and surgical aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of cancers detected. In addition, the surgeon will contribute to setting standards, audit and administrative aspects of the programme as required.

Qualifications and experience

BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA) surgeons:

  • have registration to practice in New Zealand with a current annual practising certificate
  • hold a qualification in general surgery and are vocationally registered in general surgery with the Medical Council of New Zealand
  • participate in a re-certification programme in general surgery by their own college
  • are credentialed to an accredited hospital
  • are a member of Breast Surgeons of Australia and New Zealand (BSANZ).

Where a surgeon has an overseas qualification, accreditation will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Surgeons’ Unidisciplinary Group and BSA clinical leader.

A surgeon in the programme, in addition to training and experience in general surgery, should have specialist surgical expertise and a major interest in breast cancer management. Surgeons ensure they have acquired the necessary skills in the management of screen detected lesions by attending approved multidisciplinary training activities, such as those organised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and by spending time in a breast screening unit.

Accreditation process

All surgeons working in the BSA programme require accreditation to do so.

  • Each surgeon will be assessed on their qualifications, training, etc, and a decision will be made by the Surgeons’ Unidisciplinary Group based on information submitted in the accreditation template.
  • A recommendation will be made by BSA regarding the surgeon’s ability to work in the programme. The outcome will be communicated to their lead provider manager, clinical director and the surgeon.

Professional requirements

A full description of the professional requirements for breastcare nurses working the in the BSA programme is in criterion 8.20 of the BreastScreen Aotearoa National Policy and Quality Standards.

BreastScreen Aotearoa National Policy and Quality Standards