If you work in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme you'll be familiar with failsafe procedures and how important they are in maintaining standards.
Screening is a complicated business with lots of different professionals involved and these processes are designed to prevent or reduce the risk of things going wrong.
Over the last few months we've been working hard to update and improve the existing failsafe guidelines and screening services need to be aware of the updated requirements in the latest version.
The failsafe process
Failsafe processes make sure that as far as possible the cervical screening programme takes the correct action following a cervical screening test, or that a valid reason for not taking that action is known and recorded.
The effective monitoring of failsafe requires documentation of:
- the point at which a required screening activity is started
- the point at which it is concluded
This is usually via a failsafe systematic process or an IT system.
In addition, providers should have local protocols to ensure that all processes close within an appropriate timescale.
Who this affects
Responsibility for failsafe lies with GPs, cervical screening laboratories, commissioners, colposcopy clinics and sample takers.
As well as detailing the responsibilities of each, the failsafe guidance aims to help avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.
It is really important to ensure appropriate action is taken to make sure that the right people are invited and that those with abnormal test results are followed up correctly.
We would like to thank the members of the cervical screening task and finish group for their excellent advice and support in updating this guidance including Philippa Pearmain, Andrea Pearson, Karen Burgess, Kirsty Wenzel, Mary Burke, Lorraine Harding, Janet Parker, Lyn Jenkins, John Crossley, Carina Hume, John Rodriguez and Sharon Whitehurst.