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19th June 2019 | Health, Press Releases

CervicalCheck Programme less regulated than Food Safety Sector—Greens

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The Food Safety Sector is subject to more stringent regulations than the CervicalCheck Programme. That’s according to the Green Party after confirmation from Cabinet this week that at least 120 women are in line to receive ex-gratia payments of €20,000 each as a result of non-disclosure of the CervicalCheck audit.

The Supplementary Report of the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme by Dr Gabriel Scally was published last Tuesday, and Green Party Councillor, Lourda Scott PhD, who previously worked as a laboratory manager, says the issues of governance, transparency, and breakdown in communication (between the laboratories and HSE) raise their head as key problems. It has emerged that the numbers of laboratories who conduct the screenings were not the initial 6 as indicated in May 2018, but in fact, a total of 16 laboratories.

“This latest Scally report highlights an absolute lack of monitoring, while also highlighting deficiencies in the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB), which is the national body responsible for issuing accreditation in Ireland.

“It is crucial that women should not be deterred from this important, life-saving scanning service, especially as Dr. Scally concludes that no deficiencies were found in the screening quality. However, the report paints an overall picture of total mismanagement with the primary focus on price of testing rather than quality.

“Notable from the report was the haphazard manner in which the Cervical Check samples were processed. This is in sharp contrast to the highly regulated Food Safety Sector—official laboratories involved in testing food are required through EU Regulation to be ISO Accredited with National Cross Agency guidance developed to not only ensure compliance with legislation, but also encourage good practice to exceed the minimal legislative requirements.

“Isn’t it time we called for a similar gold standard of excellence when it comes to our public health screening services, particularly in relation to women’s healthcare which has suffered so badly for so long? Until a similar framework is in place in the Public Health sector, it will be only a matter of time until we have another scandal on our hands.”