Irish women's smear tests were read in unapproved labs – Scally report

As many as 250,000 smear tests from women in Ireland were read in labs in the United States and UK which were unapproved and not inspected by CervicalCheck.

The shocking extent of the transfer of slides to locations such as Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lansing, Illinois, Hawaii and Manchester, England, was revealed in the second investigation report of Dr Gabriel Scally.

Until last year, CervicalCheck was only aware of six labs which were officially being used to carry out its cervical screening, but Dr Scally found the real number was 16, with 10 unapproved centres used. All but one was accredited.

Major concern emerged about the lab based in Salford, Manchester, where 91,000 tests were examined.

Dr Scally found it started taking tests from CervicalCheck in 2016 but was not independently accredited – ensuring it met standards – until two months ago on his request. The UK facility, operated by Medlab in Dublin, started with just one laboratory scientist and still has only four staff.

“I find the circumstances surrounding the screening of Irish women’s slides in Salford particularly surprising, and disturbing in terms of the level of governance expected in a public health programme,” said Dr Scally.

CervicalCheck campaigners Lorraine Walsh and Stephen Teap said the report was “disturbing”.

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