"Breast cancer diagnoses must return to James Cook University Hospital."
That was the simple message from a Middlesbrough Councillor after health chiefs promised to look again at diagnostic arrangements on Teesside.
Earlier this year Middlesbrough Council's Health Scrutiny Panel decided to write to the Secretary of State for Health to ask him to intervene in the situation after deciding talks with the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group had failed to produce results.
At the time the CCG said it was "disappointed" that the panel had made the referral.
However they have now written to the committee to apologise and to announce that a task and finish group had been formed with health partner agencies to look at the matter again and to "implement the preferred option that is agreed".
In response Cllr Joan McTigue, the newly appointed Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Panel, said: "We already have a preferred option and that is that the breast diagnostic service returns to James Cook University Hospital.
"The service was removed ‘temporarily' three-and-a-half years ago. It is completely unacceptable that women in our community are having to travel to North Tees University Hospital when we have James Cook on our doorsteps.
"Breast cancer diagnoses can be a matter of life and death. The evidence this panel has received is that women living in some of our most deprived communities make up the majority of those not attending screenings at North Tees.
"Members have raised concerns that this is because the cost and travel logistics of getting to North Tees is putting people off - that is incredibly worrying."
In the letter from the CCG it is stated: "What was thought to be a temporary measure has lasted considerably longer than anticipated and the position regarding the recruitment of breast radiologists has not improved during that period."
It adds that staff from the CCG would be happy to attend a future Health Scrutiny Panel meeting to discuss and share their plans and timelines.
The panel will next meet on Tuesday, July 9 at Middlesbrough Town Hall.