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NCSS ANNOUNCES PREFERRED BIDDER FOR THE PROVISION OF CYTOLOGY SERVICES FOR CERVICALCHECK

Following completion of a public tender process, the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) today named Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL) as the preferred bidder for the provision of cytology laboratory services for CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme. In addition, the existing contract with incumbent provider Quest Diagnostics Inc. will be extended for a further two years. Subject to finalisation of contracts, CPL and Quest Diagnostics will each provide cytology services to CervicalCheck from 1 August 2010.

The procurement process was conducted in line with EU Restricted Procedures and conducted in two stages. Similar to the previous criteria in the cytology tender process carried out in 2007-2008, each applicant was required to meet certain quality criteria including the holding of third party accreditation, the capacity to screen a minimum of 25,000 cervical smear samples per annum and the capacity and ability to process smear tests within a 10 day turnaround to facilitate the continued delivery of results to women within four weeks of having their smear test.

Quest Diagnostics was awarded the original contract for provision of cytology services following a public procurement process undertaken in 2007-2008. The original contract was awarded for two years (until 31 July 2010), with an option to extend for a further two years or return to market. Quest Diagnostics has been instrumental in ensuring that the objectives initially set by CervicalCheck have been achieved. Uptake levels have remained consistently high, all analysis has been carried out in fully accredited laboratories, each smear test sample has been analysed twice by two separate cytotechnologists and women have received their smear test results within just four weeks of having their test taken.

The NCSS aims to complete the procurement process and finalise contract details in the coming weeks in preparation for delivery of a joint service on 1 August 2010.

Commenting on the procurement process, Tony O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer of the NCSS said: “As a public agency the NCSS has a duty to ensure it continues to receive best value for money across all suppliers. This process has ensured that we maximise value for the Irish taxpayer, maintain a competitive environment and continue to provide women in Ireland with a cervical cancer screening programme that operates in line with the highest international standards. The service provided by Quest Diagnostics since the CervicalCheck programme launched has ensured that women in Ireland have received a level of care in line with the highest international standards and I look forward to continuing to work with Quest Diagnostics.”

The service provided to women will remain unchanged and the process of sending smear test samples and receiving results for smeartakers (GPs and practice nurses) will remain unchanged. Individual smeartakers will deal only with one of the two contracted laboratories. Each smear test sample analysed at each laboratory will be double screened by two separate cytotechnologists and results will continue to be provided to women within four weeks of having their smear test.

CervicalCheck became available to over 1.1 million eligible women aged 25 to 60 on 1 September 2008.

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