Thursday, 27 June 2019

Questions (129)

Louise O'Reilly


129. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the estimated cost of expanding the newborn screening programme to screen for all diseases for which there is a medical treatment here, [27239/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

A National Screening Committee will be established and become operational before the end of 2019, as per recommendation 5, contained within the Scally Review (2018). The Committee’s role will be to undertake an independent assessment of the evidence for screening for a particular condition against internationally accepted criteria and make recommendations accordingly.

Ireland, has traditionally evaluated the case for commencing a national screening programme against the internationally accepted criteria (collectively known as Wilson Junger criteria). The evidence bar for commencing a screening programme should and must remain high. This evidence threshold ensures that we can be as confident as we can be that the programme in question is effective, quality assured and operating to safe standards for the population.

Financial cost is but one factor that is considered in the decision making process. Due to the complex nature of the evaluation process and the 20 criteria against which a decision is made it would be impossible to accurately quantify the cost of expanding a screening service until a full evidential assessment was completed.

I am conscious that having committed to implementing the Scally recommendations I am reluctant to undermine the decision making processes of the National Screening Committee. Any future potential changes to the National Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme will be incorporated as part of the Committee’s immediate work programme beginning this year. I will also be shortly announcing the appointment of the Chair of the NSC and the planned recruitment of the remaining members of the Committee.