Friday 18 October 2019

CervicalCheck in talks over extending laboratory contracts

  • CervicalCheck to extend contracts with US laboratories

  • Government had been under pressure to stop outsourcing cervical screening

  • The delay in the return of many test results is expected to continue

Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna are two of the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy
Vicky Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna are two of the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

CervicalCheck is in talks with the three laboratories it uses in Ireland and the US to extend their contracts when they are up for renewal from next month, it has emerged.

A number of laboratories are at the centre of legal actions taken by women who developed cervical cancer after their tests gave an incorrect result.

CervicalCheck has been under pressure from the public to stop outsourcing cervical screening to a laboratory in the US.

Asked what it intended to do in October when the contracts of the three existing laboratories run out, a spokeswoman said: "Laboratory services are currently provided by two contracted laboratories and one public laboratory. The contractual arrangements that are in place are due for renewal in October.

"The HSE has been in negotiations with the contracted laboratories with a view to extending contractual arrangements for a period pending full roll-out of HPV primary screening."

The delay in the return of many test results, which can take up to 13 weeks in some cases, is expected to continue until the end of the year.

This is because of the extra pressure placed on laboratories due to the additional free tests which were offered to women in the wake of the CervicalCheck scandal.

Meanwhile, the performance of laboratories is among the issues which will be looked at in the report of public health specialist Dr Gabriel Scally, who was due to give his scoping report to the Health Minister Simon Harris this week.

Dr Scally visited the laboratories in the US and in Ireland.

His report will also examine the manner in which CervicalCheck was run and the level of safeguarding which was involved to ensure the quality standards in screening.

The delay in giving audit reports to many of the 221 women, including the bereaved relatives of those who died, will also be assessed.

The report is expected to come before next week's Cabinet meeting and to be published.

CervicalCheck victims and their families want to receive copies in advance of the publication.

Irish Independent

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