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Help us spend less on leaflets

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Lots of people like to read on a screen – but not everyone does

Some of you may like to read on a screen – be it a news website on a laptop, a book on your tablet, or emails on your phone. Others still (sometimes, at least) like something you can hold.

The tactile enjoyment of the paper in your hand and ability to flick through a book or leaflet hasn’t been replicated on a screen.

In screening we’re not yet at a place where we can stop providing paper leaflets to support screening invitations. In coming years, I’m sure that NHS technology will enable us to invite people by text or email.

We’d support that as long as we have evidence that the invitations are received safely and that screening uptake or satisfaction is not negatively affected. But right now, IT systems to allow this are not available.

Justifying every leaflet printed

Printing costs money and has an environmental impact. So we need to be responsible about how we decide what, and how much, to print.

Across government close attention is paid to ensure we spend money efficiently. Proposals are scrutinised and we have to justify every leaflet printed. We are not allowed to spend more than we have requested.

The good news is we’ve been given the go-ahead to continue printing leaflets with APS (our new print supplier) from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019.

To ensure we keep to the agreed budget, we need your help.

Please help us to keep our print spend down by only ordering the leaflets you really need and not wasting them, or using them for non-core purposes. (Non-core purposes are those not directly related to an individual screening invitation, such as local awareness campaigns, or making leaflets available in GP surgeries).

For those of you who work for screening providers, charities or other organisations and are used to ordering leaflets to support awareness activity and campaigns, we’re really sorry that we cannot support this anymore. We do not want to leave you in the lurch however, so please contact the screening helpdesk to discuss alternative ways we can help.

We’ve developed a set of principles to guide how we develop, print and use the national screening leaflets.

We aim to build these into the service specifications for the financial year from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 but wanted to share them earlier to help services prepare. The move to one screening and one follow-up leaflet per screening episode may require some planning for the cancer screening programmes in particular.

A screening episode is defined as an invitation (with any subsequent reminders) for a particular screening test. People who are referred for further assessment following a screen should get a single copy of the appropriate follow-up leaflet.

Antenatal and newborn screening is treated as a single episode, so women should get a single copy of Screening Tests For You and Your Baby to last the entire antenatal and newborn period.

Principles to guide our print spend

  1. As far as possible, each person should only get one printed leaflet per screening episode.
  2. PHE will print enough leaflets to cover this requirement plus a small additional amount for contingency.
  3. If a reminder is required, or the leaflet is lost, then people should be signposted to electronic sources of information instead.
  4. In exceptional circumstances, a second printed leaflet can be provided but such practice should be regularly reviewed by a local screening manager and details may be requested by PHE.
  5. People with a disability or sensory impairment should get information in the right format for them as set out in the Accessible Information Standard – for example in easy read, Braille, audio or large print. PHE produces some of these resources on a national basis but additional requirements need to be met by local providers.
  6. PHE will make every effort to bring down its spend on printed materials year on year, by printing fewer leaflets, reviewing printing specifications  (for example paper type, to ensure value for money) and looking for opportunities to move to electronic and online information.
  7. PHE will monitor leaflet orders to ensure they are in line with the requirements set out in the section 7A service specifications and work with NHS England to keep within agreed limits and investigate irregularities.
  8. We will no longer print publicity posters, or resources like health professional information sheets. We will continue to make these available online so local providers can print them if they wish to.
  9. Additional leaflets required over and above the volumes approved by Cabinet Office, or for other purposes such as promotional activities, will need to be paid for.

Monitoring our print spend

We’ve set up a group to oversee usage and printing of the leaflets. If you have comments to feed in, please contact the helpdesk in the usual way.

We have also started working with the Department of Health, NHS England and NHS Digital to look at the opportunities (and risks) of moving away from printed leaflets in the future.

Everyone’s got a part to play in helping us to spend less on printed leaflets.

Between us I’m sure we can strike the right balance between using technology to reduce our spend on leaflets while still supporting those groups of people who, for the moment at least, rely on getting leaflets to make an informed choice about screening.

PHE Screening blogs

PHE Screening blogs provide up to date news from all NHS screening programmes. You can register to receive updates direct to your inbox, so there’s no need to keep checking for new blogs.

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