Tuesday 20 November 2018

The screening of smear tests may be kept in Ireland - Varadkar

The contract to carry out cervical smear tests on behalf of the State was awarded in 2012 based on the cheapest price available, tender documents suggest. (Stock picture)
The contract to carry out cervical smear tests on behalf of the State was awarded in 2012 based on the cheapest price available, tender documents suggest. (Stock picture)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

THE screening of smear tests may be kept in Ireland in the future, the Government has indicated.

Following calls from Opposition TDs and a Cabinet member Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government will look at "reconfiguring" Irish lab testing for cancer screening when Ireland moves towards HPV testing later this year.

He said "certainly it would be my preference that we do this testing in Ireland or the EU", but moved to reassure women that there was no reason to believe there were quality issues with the US labs used at the moment.

The testing of cervical smears was outsourced in 2008, following much debate and the resignation of a senior doctor, Dr David Gibbons, from CervicalCheck, who opposed the move.

Ending State contracts ahead of time would cost taxpayers the penalties of breaking the terms of the agreement.

Earlier his Cabinet colleague Minister Regina Doherty said "it's time to bring screening home".

Bríd Smith - whose comments sparked Ms Doherty's intervention - alleged the decision to outsource has "cost lives".

The People Before Profit TD - who has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to resign in the wake of the scandal - said outsourcing of the testing is "unacceptable".

Meanwhile, the HSE did not answer when asked about a reference in the memo to labs seeking legal advice over the decision to inform doctors about the outcome of the audit.

The HSE said the Scally Review is underway, which would look at all issues.

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