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Cervical Screening Laboratories Should Be Central

Cervical Screening Laboratories Should Be Centralised

Alliance Health spokesperson Phillida Bunkle said today there was an obvious solution to the current situation in which many public hospital laboratories will be unable to carry out cervical screening, because they do not meet the criteria for sufficient volume.

“The solution is a publicly owned national cytology laboratory which will have a concentration of expertise, ensuring standards are maintained.

“Such a laboratory would be able to take responsibility for the training of cytoscreeners which has been shown to be a serious problem in maintaining safe standards. The only training programme for cytoscreeners, which was established at the CIT, was dropped because private laboratories preferred to use cheaper, untrained staff. Only a properly organised national laboratory will ensure that all staff are trained to the appropriate standard and public money is not spent on fruitless, unaccountable, full profit laboratories which cut corners and endanger women’s health.

“A laboratory organised on a national scale would provide a career path for screeners. The lack of professional development of personnel has been a major problem in maintaining standards and developing education programmes.

“A national public cytology laboratory would not be tempted to cut corners to enhance profits, but would ensure the maintenance of a national programme to an appropriate standard of safety.

“Cytology slides are easily transport and such a laboratory need not be in one location but could have multiple branches which, organised into a national system could save the infrastructure of the programme.

“The loss of cytology will be a serious blow to the viability of many small hospital laboratories, whose services are kept afloat by the income from cervical screening,” said Ms Bunkle. “Public hospital laboratories have not been found to be any more below standard than privately owned laboratories.”


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