Dáil Éireann - Volume 654 - 15 May, 2008

Written Answers. - Cancer Screening Programme.

Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is fully satisfied of the decision of the Health Service Executive to outsource cytology testing services to a US company in view of the different approach the US authorities have to data protection and privacy laws from that of Ireland and the loss of jobs here due to this decision. [19065/08]

  Deputy Mary Harney: Last week the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) announced a preferred bidder for the provision of laboratory testing services for the National Cervical Screening Programme. This is an important milestone which will enable the NCSS to launch the first quality assured, population based National Cervical Screening Programme for women in Ireland aged 25-60 years.

In keeping with EU procurement legislation, the procurement process is being conducted in an open and competitive manner. Submissions were invited from local and international laboratories during the process. The NCSS has concluded that the preferred bidder can deliver a service that meets all of the required quality criteria. The Deputy will appreciate that quality is a critical requirement of the new programme.

The NCSS has assured my Department that patient confidentiality will not be compromised if cytology samples are outsourced to a facility in the United States.

The National Hospitals Office (NHO) of the HSE has a commitment to staff currently employed in cytology services, and has met with their representative. Any decisions regarding reassignment of employees will be addressed after the National Cancer Screening Service has completed the procurement process for cytology services.