We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Sam Boal
cervical screening

Cervical check samples are still being screened abroad following December's cyberattack

A cyber-attack on The Coombe at the end of last year resulted in the hospital losing its IT connectivity with CervicalCheck.

CERVICAL CHECK SAMPLES are being sent for screening overseas, despite the government’s commitment to increasing screenings in Ireland following the Cervical Check controversy. 

Dublin’s Coombe Hospital normally processes about 10% of cervical screening samples for CervicalCheck, while about 90% are sent to Quest Diagnostics in the US.

But a cyber-attack on The Coombe at the end of last year resulted in the hospital losing its IT connectivity with CervicalCheck, meaning it was unable to accept samples. The Service has been reconnected recently and is being tested. 

“There was an awful lot of technical work to be done in the background to make sure that it was secure and reconnected,” said Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, speaking to RTE’s Bryan Dobson earlier today, adding that “the final technical testing stages are happening now, and it will be back in the coming weeks.”

In the meantime, all samples are being tested by Quest Diagnostics in the US.  

According to a statement from a HSE spokesperson, “there is a severe unavailability of principal cytopathologists at the Coombe currently.”

It added that “the hospital has been working on putting in place contingency to cover this unavailability,” to allow it to keep processing samples, “despite general shortages of this expertise both in Ireland and internationally”.

New National Cervical Screening Laboratory

The Health Minister also said that a new National Cervical Screening Lab (NCSL) is being built in the Coombe, and its construction is well underway.

“That lab really is how we’re going to be able to scale up to make sure that more of those samples are done here,” he said. 

The new laboratory will comprise of 1,340 sqm of accommodation over four floors providing cytology, HPV testing, training, audit, and research facilities. It’s due to be operational later this year, according to the HSE’s statement. 

It said that the lack of availability of cytopathology staff, namely consultant cytopathologists, is “the top risk to immediate and long-term success of the NCSL”.  

It added that “further posts have been identified and staff will be recruited as the Coombe increases its work on behalf of CervicalCheck.”

“The opening of the new NCSL … will build capacity and resilience into the public element of the laboratory services (and) … will enable the National Screening Service (NSS) to reduce its dependency on third-party providers to meet the needs of CervicalCheck,” said the statement. 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel