Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Department of Health
Cancer Screening Programmes
444. To ask the Minister for Health the number of slides requested by a college (details supplied) to be included in its review and which had been given consent for inclusion by the women concerned but were not available to the review due to the fact the laboratory concerned could not locate them, by laboratory; if the slides have subsequently become available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51751/19]
The transfer of slides from CervicalCheck labs for the RCOG Review was a complex process that involved the retrieval, imaging, packing and transfer of over 1,700 slides spanning a period of approximately 11 years, since the commencement of the CervicalCheck programme.
In addition to the over 1,700 slides which transferred, the HSE reported during the process that a total of 35 slides of women or next of kin who had consented to be included in the review were not located by the laboratories as of the closing date for slide transfers to RCOG on 7 June.
Nine of these slides have since been located. The majority of these unavailable slides were requested from Quest Diagnostics. This is in keeping with the fact that the majority of slide requests (over 1000 of the approx 1700) for inclusion in the RCOG review pertained to Quest.
The HSE communicated with those affected in June 2019 to inform them of this issue.
For the women whose slides were not located in time to be included in the Review, and who thus had slides excluded from the Review due to a factor outside their control, it was decided they may avail of the support package and access to the CervicalCheck Tribunal, if they so wish, as if they had been identified as having discordant results on review by the Independent Clinical Expert Panel.
445. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a review (details supplied) suggests that twice as many high-grade abnormalities are missed by laboratories contracted to conduct the CervicalCheck screening programme in comparison to the referenced screening programme in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51752/19]
The RCOG Expert Panel noted that the exercise most closely related to its Review is the English Cervical Screening Audit. The Minister notes that the findings of this much larger English Audit bear close resemblance to the findings of the RCOG Review.
As noted in the Aggregate Report of the Expert Panel, amongst the slides originally deemed negative by CervicalCheck, 55.1% were confirmed negative by the Expert Panel Review, which is almost identical to that seen (51%) in the English Audit. Almost 15% of CervicalCheck slides originally reported as negative were reported as low grade by the Expert Panel, compared with around 20% of original negatives in the English audit. 30% of CervicalCheck slides originally reported as negative were reported as high grade by the Expert Panel, compared with just under 20% of original negatives in the English Audit.
Of slides originally reported as low grade by CervicalCheck, the Expert Panel reported 66% as high grade; the rate of low grade to high grade was 47% in the English audit.
Of slides originally reported as high grade by CervicalCheck, there was 99% agreement with only 1% reviewed as negative or low grade, in line with similar findings in the English Audit.
446. To ask the Minister for Health if the exact same standards of measuring of that which constitutes a discordant slide upon review as opposed to a concordant slide are employed by the ongoing slide review involving cases of cervical cancer in the UK referenced by a college (details supplied) and its own methodology used in a recent review. [51753/19]
The protocol for the RCOG review is available on the HSE's website.
As noted in the RCOG Aggregate Report, the slides were screened in a manner similar to everyday practice by qualified screeners who held the NHS Cervical Screening Programme diploma or equivalent and had at least 10 years' experience in screening slides prepared with the liquid based cytology technology used in the CervicalCheck programme. Slides were screened according to the local standard operating procedure (SOP) which is designed to ensure all fields of view are carefully assessed with overlap moving across the slide.