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2017 to 2018 screening service specifications: the main changes

NHS England has published the 2017 to 2018 service specifications for all 11 NHS Screening Programmes. 

The specifications accompany the 2017 to 2018 agreement that outlines how NHS England commissions certain public health services under section 7A of the National Health Service Act 2006.

The new screening specifications include changes to the national programmes in 2017 to 2018. The specifications are important reading for those involved in the commissioning and provision of screening services in England.

Summary of changes

Below are some of the most important changes.

NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme

Screening providers will ensure any updates are made within the system that are their local operational responsibility. For instance, amended/new national standard letters will be uploaded and replaced within 30 days of notification.

NHS Breast Screening Programme

NHS England will ensure that:

  • women with implants are screened using routine mammography techniques including the Eklund technique and that all mammographers and assistant practitioners have training in this method as required by the programme
  • assessment test results are communicated clearly, accurately, and promptly, in person, by a member of the clinical team
  • women who ask to be screened at an alternative screening centre are accommodated

NHS Diabetic Eye Screening (DES) Programme

The specification includes:

  • additional requirements for increasing uptake and reducing inequities
  • additional provider requirement to ensure all staff are trained and that the clinical lead and programme manager attend DES educational events
  • a mention of the introduction of risk-based screening intervals for potential early implementer sites
  • a requirement for all grading staff to participate in the Test and Training set according to national guidance

NHS Infectious Diseases in Pregnancy Screening Programme

The specification clarifies important points in the delivery of the screening pathway, specifically:

  • requirements for the formal re-offer and face-to-face contact with women who decline the offer of screening
  • new links to promotion of vaccinations in pregnancy and reporting viral rash
  • reinforcing the importance of sexual health awareness and protection in pregnancy
  • follow-up of women who miscarry after screening
  • importance of neonatal alert plans
  • updated information on data collection

NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme

The specification includes:

  • amendments to important dates, spelling and references
  • corrections and updates to the pathway diagram to reflect clinical practice
  • threshold revisions to reflect new KPI targets

NHS Newborn and Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) Programme

The specification includes:

  • the mandatory use of NIPE SMART (Screening Management and Reporting Tool) to record and manage the local screening processes
  • added emphasis on the need to ensure completion of the screening pathways
  • clarification of required local processes for feedback of results from screening referrals
  • information about ensuring NIPE examination is undertaken even when babies are transferred
  • minor wording changes throughout to offer further clarity only
  • updated weblinks

NHS Newborn Blood Spot Screening Programme

Newborn blood spot screening laboratories should check and report positive results for medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD), maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) or isovaleric acidaemia (IVA) within 24 hours of being analysed successfully.

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  1. Comment by Phil Bullock posted on

    Am I alone in scratching my head here? having searched for anything relating to the Cervical Screening programme changing to HR HPV primary screening but I cant find anything in Document 7a or 25.

    Does this mean further delay please?

    • Replies to Phil Bullock>

      Comment by Ruth Stubbs posted on

      Thank you for your comment. I would suggest you refer to the section 1 of the service specification that refers to the purpose of the document. This service specification is applied by NHS England in accordance with the 2017-18 agreement. This service specification is not intended to replicate, duplicate or supersede any other legislative provisions that may apply. Where a specification refers to any other published document or standard, it refers to the document or standard as it existed at the date when the 2017-18 agreement was made between the Secretary of State and NHS England Board, unless otherwise specified. At the time the specification was produced, HPV Primary Screening occurred as a pilot only and mitigation had not been agreed.