Wednesday, 10 July 2019
Department of Health
Cancer Screening Programmes
303. To ask the Minister for Health the inquiries made as to whether the entire cervical screening service should be re-established to ensure an entirely integrated service for HPV, cytology, colposcopy and histopathology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30374/19]
Following the issues which emerged in relation to CervicalCheck in 2018, Government established a Scoping Inquiry led by Dr Gabriel Scally. The Scoping Inquiry submitted its Final Report in September 2018 and a Supplementary Report this June, and provided welcome assurance in relation to the quality management processes in the labs. Dr Scally has said he has found no evidence of deficiencies in screening quality in any of the labs. These are very welcome reassurances for women in Ireland, given the importance of screening for women’s health and the need for external laboratory capacity to support the programme.
At the same time, Dr Scally did as we know uncover significant issues across a range of areas within screening, and made 58 recommendations in total across his reports. My focus now is on the full implementation of all of those recommendations, which are fundamental to strengthening the programme and ensuring it delivers a service of the highest quality for Irish women.
I take it that, in referring to an integrated service, the Deputy is referring particularly to the laboratory element of the screening pathway which is currently provided primarily by external providers, with a small element provided by the Coombe Hospital. While Dr Scally made no recommendation regarding how laboratory services should be provided, the HSE has advised it is committed to the further development of laboratory services at the Coombe, and that work is ongoing in relation to development of costings and a business case, taking account of future need.