Two outside CervicalCheck labs paid €12.4m

The two external labs at the heart of the CervicalCheck controversy were paid a total of €12.4m in the past two years for their services.

That is ten times the amount paid to the Coombe Hospital during the same period.

The Health Service Executive (HSE), acting on foot of a command from the Dáil’s spending watchdog, have confirmed the spend to Quest labs, in the United States, and to Medlabs Pathology, who are based between Dublin and London.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have also secured from the HSE copies of the two master contracts signed between CervicalCheck and the two labs.

Documents seen by the Irish Examiner also show that, as late as December, Quest labs were requested by CervicalCheck to extend their services.

A letter from John Gleeson, programme director with CervicalCheck, to Greg Ourednik, of Quest, on December 19, makes clear it was CervicalCheck who sought the extension.

This is despite concerns being raised about the programme as early as 2016.

A similar, six-month extension was requested of Quest on June 15, 2017.

However, according to the documents, which are to be examined by the PAC next Thursday, CervicalCheck paid Quest €6.6m between 2016 and 2017, for cytology and HPV screening services.

Medlab, during the same period, was paid €5.8m. The documents show that the Coombe Hospital received €1.4m. According to the documents, CervicalCheck tests are processed in three laboratories, all of which have ISO accreditation.

It claimed that performance data allows the laboratories to be compared for activity volumes, positive predictive values (PPVs), and satisfactory and unsatisfactory sample rates.

CervicalCheck claimed that the documents show that high volumes of smears are analysed by each lab every year and that, within this, the PPVs are at the levels of best international practice.

“The programme PPV values are steady and the relationship between PPV and NAD is also appropriate.”

 “CervicalCheck has told the PAC. Some variation would be expected to arise from demographic variations across the population for which the labs are testing.

“Overall, the trends are consistent, which indicates a high quality across all labs that are in line with international standards. The following tables set out the performance of the existing laboratories for the last eight years.”

It also said that each laboratory caters for a different geographical area, with the Coombe also picking up specific clinics, such as the family planning clinics, in the eastern area.

“Hence, there is a different population profile, with different characteristics, including cancer prevalence, in the catchment area of each laboratory,” the documents state. “Each GP practice is aligned to a specific laboratory, so all smears for a practice are handled by one laboratory.”

Health Minister Simon Harris said the HSE will make sure families seeking medical files get them soon. He said information is being provided within 30 days.

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