Significant progress is being made on the new National Cervical Screening Laboratory (NCSL). The NCSL is being developed by the HSE and the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital (CWIUH) and is designed to be a national centre of excellence for cervical screening. It will be commissioned by Ireland’s cervical screening programme, CervicalCheck, to process women’s cervical screening samples.
The NCSL, which began construction in January 2021, finished its building works programme in October 2022 and has passed all required building inspections. A building and clinical equipment fit-out phase is now under way to ensure that the new laboratory is ready for operation. The lab will then undergo rigorous testing, validation and verification before final external quality assurance inspections take place. Once these inspections are complete, the NCSL will be ready to begin operations by year-end.
The new laboratory is designed to ultimately become CervicalCheck’s main provider of cervical screening laboratory services. Recruitment of skilled staff at all levels is a top priority, and will continue to be so for several years as the NCSL increases the number of CervicalCheck samples it receives. The availability of skilled staff is the key limiting factor for the full establishment of the laboratory. A workforce plan is in place and essential roles in cytopathology, virology and medical scientists have been identified. As these key roles are filled, the NCSL will work towards becoming the main provider of laboratory services for CervicalCheck over the coming years.
CervicalCheck provides a quality assured public screening service in line with national and international best practice. You can read more about these standards here. The most recently published CervicalCheck programme report, covering the period September 2017 to March 2020, details all quality measures. It can be found here.