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HSE must explain reduced emphasis quality for smear testing contracts – Louise O’Reilly TD

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Speaking after the briefing with Dr Gabriel Scally on the scoping inquiry into the scandal around the CervicalCheck screening programme, Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Deputy Louise O’Reilly, has said the HSE must explain why the weighting for quality assurance and capacity were continually reduced in the tender process for laboratories to conduct smear testing.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“Today Dr Gabriel Scally produced the supplementary report into the CervicalCheck scandal, and I would like to thank him for the comprehensive job he did, under very difficult circumstances.

“There are many sections of the report which jump out upon reading, none more so than the chapter on the procurement of laboratory services. This section raises many questions, notedly, why the HSE reduced the weighting for quality assurance and capacity in the tender process for laboratories to conduct smear testing.

“When I spoke with Dr Scally this afternoon he said he was unable to give me an answer as when he attempted to investigate the contracts and the procurement process information and documents were either missing, destroyed, or could not be found.

“It is hugely important that the reasons for reducing emphasis on quality assurance and capacity while at the same time increasing the weighting for fee proposal are explained in full.

“The report also raises many other questions around contracted laboratories using other laboratories without the knowledge of the CervicalCheck programme and similarly questions exist regarding the retrospective accreditation of laboratories.

“While this report raises a number of further questions for which there needs to be answers, it also, importantly, contains series of recommendations which if implemented will ensure success and confidence in our screening services.

“The CervicalCheck programme is invaluable, it saves lives and will continue to save lives, and we must never lose sight of that.”

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