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AAA screeners and nurses enjoy development and networking events

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme
Female AAA screening technician conducts abdominal ultrasound scan on older male lying on couch
AAA screening technicians and nurses gave very positive feedback on the development and networking events held in Birmingham

PHE Screening recently held training and development events for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening technicians and nurse specialists from 34 local screening providers.

The events in Birmingham included important updates on a wide range of topics and were hailed a great success. Feedback was very positive – the structure and content of the event was rated ‘very good’ by 51% of respondents and ‘good’ by 45%.

One screening technician even said the food was “5 star”, which may surprise anyone who knows the policy on meal provision!

You can view presentation slides from the events at the bottom of this article.

Reducing inequalities

We aim to support providers in addressing AAA screening inequalities in line with the PHE Screening inequalities strategy.

We encourage providers to share learning by following the guidance for reducing inequalities in AAA screening.

Championing informed choice

We also discussed with screening technicians the principle of personal informed choice and consent based on the experience of one provider.

It is highly recommended that AAA screening staff take the time to work their way through our new video about informed choice.

Informed choice is also covered in our introduction to population screening e-learning module, which provides a useful one-hour refresher for existing screening staff.

Changes to how we work

National programme manager Lisa Summers gave presentations at both events to update staff on recent and future developments in the programme.

This included news of the national programme’s 2 new recommended suppliers of AAA screening imaging equipment and the revised national AAA pathway standards that will be implemented in April 2020.

Lisa and I also explained our proposal to change the way screening technicians are assessed for competency. The current reaccreditation process requires a scanning assessment at the University of Salford. We are proposing instead that providers’ clinical skills trainers (CSTs) could carry out assessments as part of the existing internal quality assurance process.

Screening technicians gave the thumbs-up to this proposal and we will next seek approval through the national programme’s advisory group and PHE’s strategic management group.

We were glad to receive such good feedback from technicians regarding the change process. One said:

I liked the interactive discussion we had about the reaccreditation process. It was refreshing to be a part of a process that very much involves us, the screening technicians. It made me feel listened to and our opinions were very much taken on board.

We will keep you informed of progress through this blog.

Making AAA inclusive

Sophie Mather, of the national LGBT Foundation, gave a presentation at both events. She spoke on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) awareness in the provision of AAA screening services.

She told us that the National LGBT Survey had found that 38% of trans respondents accessing general healthcare services reported a negative experience because of their gender identity.

Feedback on Sophie’s session was positive as most screeners and nurses had not received local LGBT awareness training.

Extending the screening technician role

At the event for AAA nurse specialists we discussed nurse assessments of men who are in surveillance to understand how and when different providers offer assessments.

It was evident that there is some variation due to factors such as cohort size and geographical location. Nurses were clear that they wanted to do more to enable men to optimise their general health.

Tracy Gilchrist and Hayley Manning, from the North East AAA screening service, discussed how they have extended the role of their screening technicians to take blood pressure measurements of men during surveillance appointments. They reported that the technicians enjoy this extension to their role to make every contact count. They received praise from a GP for finding raised blood pressure in one patient.

We will continue to work with AAA nurse specialists to standardise practice and develop national guidance on nurse assessments, and how to include screening technicians in this process.

Improving outcomes

Adam Haque, of the University of Manchester, presented his findings from a small study on improving outcomes of men in surveillance.

The study involved a community-based 24-week exercise programme which was directed by the men and showed that cardiovascular fitness is crucial to outcomes. Adam is now looking at undertaking definitive trials of this approach and integrating an exercise referral service into the AAA surveillance pathway.

Other topics discussed at the nurse specialists event included the contribution nurse specialists could make to programme board meetings and screening inequalities.

Thank you to everyone who attended both days.

PHE Screening blog articles 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. If you have any questions about this blog article, or about population screening in England, please contact the PHE screening helpdesk.

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