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New National Cytology Training programme

Media Release

25 July, 2005

New National Cytology Training programme established

A new nationally-coordinated training programme for pathologists, scientists and technicians involved in processing and interpreting cervical smears is to be established. The programme will be based in Christchurch with training taking place in main centres across New Zealand. An Agreement to establish the new programme was signed this week between the National Screening Unit and Canterbury District Health Board.

The National Cytology Training programme will ensure ready access to ongoing education and training that enables cytology sector workers to develop and update their knowledge and skills.

"This is a rapidly changing sector with advances in technology constantly taking place. Considerable consultation, involving a large number of people in the sector, has gone into developing the most appropriate and effective model for delivering ongoing, up-to-date cytology training, said Jane McEntee, Manager of the National Cervical Screening Programme.

"This is a co-operative venture between a public hospital , Canterbury Health Laboratories, and a private laboratory, Medlab South. The National Cervical Screening Programme appreciates the considerable input from health professionals across the sector, through advisory and working groups."

The need for a nationally-coordinated training programme was identified through the National Screening Unit?s Workforce Development Strategy, and its Strategic Plan. The training programme will also meet recommendations from the Cervical Screening Inquiry and subsequent reports and comments from Dr Euphemia McGoogan, expert pathology advisor, who highlighted the need to provide regular cytology update courses within New Zealand for all laboratory staff.

The subsequent Laboratory Workforce Advisory group (2003) and the Cytology Training Working Group (2004) recommended an independent training programme with the flexibility to provide national training in main centres. These groups comprised representatives from the Royal College of Australasia, the Medical Laboratory Science Board, the NZ Institute of Medical Laboratory Science and the NZ Society of Cytology.

Lisa Brennan, Manager of Anatomical Pathology, Canterbury Health Laboratories, said training will include short courses and workshops and will be practically-oriented. The training will be led by a team consisting of a pathologist and scientific staff.

Around 166 pathologists, scientists and technicians who currently work in cytology will be able to access the training.

It will also be for new graduate scientists completing the Vocational Registration programme in Cervical Cytology, trainee technicians and trainee pathologists completing anatomical pathology training with the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.

A national cytology training advisory committee will shortly be set up by Canterbury Health Laboratories to oversee the work of the new programme.

ENDS

Background information: The National Screening Unit of the Ministry of Health is responsible for the stewardship of New Zealand's three organised screening programmes, the National Cervical Screening Programme, BreastScreen Aotearoa and Newborn Metabolic Screening.

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