We offer screening tests to millions of people every year, male and female, at every stage of life.
But we only do so if the evidence proves that screening does more good than harm for the population as a whole. The balance of good and harm is not always as clear at an individual level though. For instance, pregnant women choosing to have the screening test for Down’s syndrome may end up being offered a diagnostic test which carries a risk of miscarriage.
That’s why we often present screening as an individual choice rather than a recommendation. And people can only make a choice that is right for them if they have high quality, evidence-based and accessible information. We have made it easier for them to do that – and raised the profile of screening in the process – by moving all our online screening information for the public to NHS Choices.
Like us, NHS Choices is committed to providing objective and trustworthy information based on the best scientific knowledge currently available. And everything the public needs to know about the 11 NHS screening programmes is now available on Choices, which is the UK’s biggest health website and the most trusted and comprehensive source of health information.
The new screening landing page on Choices explains what screening is (and what it isn’t), the types of screening offered by the NHS in England, and the benefits, risks and limitations of screening. In addition, there are individual pages for each screening programme. You can find these using the links on the screening landing page, using the NHS Choices search function or directly from a search engine. For each programme, we explain why and when screening’s offered, how the test works, the possible results and their implications. And we’ve brought screening to life by adding short films and case studies to several of the pages.
For the abdominal aortic aneurysm and diabetic eye screening programmes there is also a search function to find the contact details for your local service.
But this is only the start. We’ll be working with Choices over the coming months and years to continually improve the content. Watch this space….