Lab questions remain



CONCERNS remain over the accuracy of test results supplied by the Grafton Laboratory after its loss of accreditation despite hospital CEO's reassurance to the community.

Area health service CEO Chris Crawford said the community shouldn't be worried about the results after an audit confirmed the accuracy of the testing.

"I have met with the Grafton laboratory staff to assure them of my confidence in their competency and to indicate there has been no suggestion that testing errors have been made," Mr Crawford said.

Since March 22 North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) directed pathology specimens to be tested in Grafton and then double-checked at a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory in Lismore.

The Grafton Laboratory, operated by the Northern River Pathology Service, had its formal accreditation suspended on February 15.

Clarence Valley Council Mayor Ian Tiley wants the pathology unit's operations to be properly resourced on a permanent basis as soon as possible.

In a letter to Mr Crawford, Councillor Tiley wrote a func- tioning pathology unit at Grafton Base Hospital was an important element in the delivery of the Clarence Valley's health services.

In parliament Clarence MP Steve Cansdell asked NSW Premier Morris Iemma to give Grafton Base Hospital pathology patients an assurance that their test results were accurate.

"The Premier told the Parliament the chief of the NCAHS had advised him there was no suggestion that test results could be wrong and that an internal inquiry was underway," Mr Cansdell said.

"The reality is the premier cannot be sure.

"He said it was vitally important the Grafton laboratory is accredited so basic standards are met."

According to Mr Crawford the Grafton Laboratory is working towards re-accreditation.

He said NATA made a series of recommendations to improve the standards of the laboratory, which include recruiting relief staff, support staff and a senior scientific officer, while Lismore pathologists are assisting in supervision.

Fifty eight per cent of of the recommendations have been implemented according to NCAHS.



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