Independent review of national cancer screening programmes
In an independent review commissioned by NHS England, the evaluation aims to assess the programmes for breast, bowel and cervical cancer in England to identify issues and how they can be improved to deliver the targets set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
The report includes an assessment of the IT systems used for screening, the challenges facing uptake by the eligible population to attend screening appointments, as well as accountability and governance.
Containing Professor Richards’ preliminary findings, the report recommends local systems are put in place to systematically implement interventions and encourage more eligible patients to attend screenings. He says that despite the challenging background in cancer screening services in England “there is much to be proud of”, praising the screening services for helping to save around 9,000 lives a year through early diagnosis and prevention. Professor Richards calls for national stakeholders to ensure that IT systems for screenings are fit for purpose, as inefficient IT systems will continue to negatively affect the safety and quality of the current screening programmes.
Kirstie Rice is an IBMS Panel member and is a Consultant Biomedical Scientist in cytology at New Cross Hospital. She commented,
“I welcome the findings so far, particularly the emphasis on the urgent need for the implementation of fit for purpose IT systems, the governance and accountability within the screening programme and further targeting of uptake and coverage for the eligible population along with future planning regarding workforce, training and research resources.
I am hopeful that many if not all of the issues that have been faced by those providing and planning screening services can be addressed by the recommendations in the final report and these, will be fully funded.”
The British Association for Cytopathology commented,
“Having consulted widely, including a submission from the BAC amongst others, it identifies both good and poor performance in the cancer screening programmes, including the cervical screening programme.
It highlights issues with IT, performance monitoring and standards, management and accountability amongst others. The final report will be published later this year. The recommendations will be challenging to implement, but are essential to maintain the quality and public and professional confidence in them.”
Read the full preliminary report.