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Home > Minister of State Catherine Byrne TD launches the National Clinical Effectiveness Guideline on Hepatitis C Screening.

[Department of Health] Minister of State Catherine Byrne TD launches the National Clinical Effectiveness Guideline on Hepatitis C Screening. (28 Jul 2017)

Press release:

Today, on World Hepatitis Day, the Minister of State Catherine Byrne TD launches a new National Clinical Effectiveness Guideline to help healthcare professionals with screening people for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).  The new guideline was developed by a group led by the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and was quality assured by the Department’s National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC).

The guideline has received Ministerial endorsement as a high quality guideline to be implemented in full across the health service. This is the first National Clinical Guideline on a public health topic and will help to improve the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of hepatitis C screening across Ireland.

Hepatitis C is often referred to as a silent disease as symptoms can take several years to develop so people do not realise that they have the disease and are at risk of serious complications.  There are between 20,000 and 30,000 people living in Ireland with hepatitis C, but three out of five of them haven’t been diagnosed yet. Once diagnosed there are treatments available which are very successful, but people need to be tested.

“I am pleased to launch this guideline on World Hepatitis C Day. New medicines in recent years mean we can now treat and even cure hepatitis C but the first step is identification of the people who require treatment, which is why this guideline is so important.” Minister Byrne said.

The guideline is designed to further raise the quality of screening services and prevent variations in practice. Specifically it addresses who should be offered screening and how screening should be done. The recommendations are based on the best research evidence and on clinical expertise.

Dr Kevin Kelleher, Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said: “This guideline will increase awareness of hepatitis C and the need for testing. We hope it will encourage people who may be in a risk group for infection to come forward to be tested. Testing, and then linking people who are diagnosed with hepatitis C into care and treatment is an important step in reducing the ill-health associated with hepatitis C in Ireland. We also need to continue our work on supporting people who may be at risk of hepatitis C, and providing the public with the information to prevent new infections.”

The National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) was established as an essential component of the Patient Safety First initiative. It provides leadership for national clinical effectiveness through prioritisation and quality assurance of National Clinical Guidelines and audit. Fifteen NCEC National Clinical Guidelines have now been published and are available for use in the health service.

Minister Byrne acknowledged the work of NCEC in advancing patient safety and quality, and the Irish clinical effectiveness agenda, under the chairmanship of Professor Karen Ryan and congratulated the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre on this important contribution to evidence-based public health care.

Extending and implementing the suite of National Clinical Effectiveness Guidelines is a Department of Health priority for 2017.

Please refer to for further information.

Further information

National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC)
Clinical effectiveness is a key component of patient safety. The integration of best evidence in service provision, through clinical effectiveness processes, promotes healthcare that is up to date, effective and consistent. Clinical effectiveness processes include guidelines, audit and practice guidance.

NCEC Terms of Reference 2015:
– Apply criteria for the prioritisation of clinical guidelines and audit for the health service
– Apply criteria for quality assurance of clinical guidelines and audit for the health service
– Disseminate a template on how a clinical guideline and audit should be structured, how audit will be linked to the clinical guideline and how and with what methodology it should
be pursued
– Recommend clinical guidelines and national audit, which have been quality assured against these criteria, for Ministerial endorsement within the Irish health service
– Facilitate with other agencies the dissemination of endorsed clinical guidelines and audit outcomes to front-line staff and to the public in an appropriate format
– Report periodically on the implementation of endorsed clinical guidelines.
Information on the NCEC, NCEC documentation and endorsed National Clinical Guidelines is available at:

HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is Ireland’s specialist agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases.

HPSC is part of the Health Service Executive and works in partnership with health service providers and sister organisations in Ireland and around the world, to provide the best possible information for the control and prevention of infectious diseases. HPSC strives to protect and improve the health of the Irish population by providing timely information and independent advice, and by carrying out disease surveillance, epidemiological investigation and related research and training.

National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme
In order to ensure that persons living with hepatitis C in Ireland are offered effective antiviral drug regimens in a structured way that ensures quality and governance in keeping with international best practice, the HSE has established a National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme.

The Vision – The National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme is a multi annual public health plan which aims to provide treatment across a range of healthcare settings to all persons living with Hepatitis C in Ireland over the coming years with a view to completely eradicating the Hepatitis C virus in our community.

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