Cervical cancer samples still screened abroad

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

All Irish cervical cancer samples are currently being screened by Quest Diagnostics in the US in the aftermath of last December’s cyber attack on the Coombe Women’s & Infants University Hospital, which caused the hospital to pause its screening service over the past six months.

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, commented that was “not happy” that the samples were being sent abroad, following major investment in a national screening laboratory at Coombe Hospital.

Dublin’s Coombe hospital is Ireland’s only cervical screening lab and, while overall hospital operations have resumed, this service has yet to start up again.

In the past, the Coombe hospital processed an estimated 30,000 samples annually, while the remaining percentage of samples taken from women in Ireland, approximately 90 per cent, were outsourced to private labs in other countries.

Following the 2018 CervicalCheck controversy, a €20 million four-storey new national cervical screening laboratory was being built in the Coombe, scheduled for completion this June.

When asked whether the laboratory would opened to schedule, the minister responded that he was waiting to be updated by the Health Service Executive.

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