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AAA screening clinical skills trainers learn from each other

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme

Clinical skills trainers (CSTs) play a vital role in the NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme.

They assure the quality of local AAA screening services and are responsible for the training and regular review of the programme’s screening technicians.

PHE held a successful networking day in London for CSTs from England and Wales.

The CST role has developed significantly in recent years and the national programme is working to address concerns over the capacity of CSTs to manage their workload.

Level 3 Diploma for Health Screeners

The level 3 Diploma for Health Screeners is a requirement for non-professionally regulated staff working in AAA screening, diabetic eye screening and newborn hearing screening.

We gave CSTs tips on how to prepare screening technicians for re-accreditation and what to expect on the day. Richard Cragg, who manages the Derbyshire diabetic eye screening service, shared his perspective on the diploma.

Top tips

Best practice for managing the diploma includes:

  • getting help from staff at the approved centres (the administrative hubs for the qualification) who are there to support assessors and learners
  • submitting any evidence of prior learning that covers learning outcomes for the diploma to your approved centre
  • using expert witnesses
  • linking with diabetic eye and newborn hearing screening services in your organisation because the 13 mandatory units are common across all 3 programmes.
  • getting your programme manager to support both the learner and the CST/assessor.
  • encouraging senior screening technicians to study for the Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement
  • using an assessor or CST from another local AAA programme to help with capacity concerns
  • holding one-to-one meetings with technicians to maintain momentum and break up learning into manageable chunks


Susan Clinton, Lancashire and South Cumbria AAA programme manager and a CST, gave a presentation on how to help prepare technicians for reaccreditation.

Image quality and automation

Tim Hartshorne, imaging lead for the national programme, led discussions on what constitutes an acceptable ultrasound image and the feedback CSTs give screening technicians on image quality.

Tim reported that a small working group has seen a demonstration of automated scanning of the aorta but that automation was not currently appropriate for AAA screening.

Image quality assurance

Interventional radiologist Dr Colin Nice highlighted potential problems in assessing whether AAA screening services are complying with the programme’s pathway standards relating to image quality.

He outlined how an external quality assurance system could help better define a high quality image and optimise image quality in AAA screening.

The national programme is therefore looking into the development of a simple image scoring tool and system to help assess images.

Thank you once again to everyone who was able to join us in London for a productive and thought-provoking day.

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