A new funding policy which could have affected some breast cancer patients has been put back to August, according to the HSE.

The new policy was supposed to be introduced tomorrow, but has now been delayed "to allow for further communication with stakeholders" according to a brief statement from the HSE this evening.

It followed concerns that breast cancer patients on medical cards who live in some parts of the country would see their funding to cover the cost of post-surgery and replacement prosthesis cut by around €180 every two years under the new HSE policy, according to one specialist lingerie supplier.

The planned introduction of the new national policy on post-mastectomy products was intended to come into effect across the country tomorrow.

The new policy will standardise funding nationwide.

Up until now, there was varied funding based on location, with full funding provided for post-surgery and replacement prosthesis and specialist bras in some health areas while limited funding was available in others.

The previous funding also only applied to medical card holders whereas the new policy will see all women benefit from the same funding.

The HSE has not yet said whether the policy might be reviewed or amended between now and August.

Kate Conway, owner of the Limerick-based specialist post-mastectomy lingerie supplier, Bravelle, said that the extension of funding to all women, and not just medical card holders, was "wonderful".

However, she said that women on medical cards would face an extra cost in certain parts of the country.

This was because the new policy will see the funding for a post-surgery and replacement prosthesis capped at €68.50 and with no entitlement to any specialist bras other than two which they will receive immediately following their breast cancer surgery, which will be valued at €33.50 each.

The figures are contained in a document issues to stakeholders by the HSE.

Ms Conway said that the cheapest prosthesis on sale at her company was €150, while specialist bras cost around on average €50 each.

A woman who has had breast surgery will, in future, have to cover the difference of €80 approximately, between the cost of a prosthesis and the funding provided for it by the HSE.

This relates to both the cost of her post-surgery prosthesis and any replacement she needs every two years.

While she will get €67 for the cost of two bras after surgery she will no longer get any funding for replacing these, and so will have to spend another €100 approximately for replacement bras every two years.

In some areas all of this cost was previously funded for women with medical cards, and so women in this situation will have to pay out an extra €180 every two years under the new policy, based on Ms Conway's calculations.

Neither the HSE nor the Irish Cancer Society, who worked together on the new policy, could immediately say what areas had been providing full and unlimited funding up until now, or what areas fell short.

In a statement, the HSE said the new policy would not lead to any reduction in spending in the area and will see more women benefit, while also creating equity of access.