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PHE Screening in the time of coronavirus

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A Government infographic shows a man and a woman 2 metres apart, which equates to 3 steps or the length of a double bed.
Government advice on social distancing

Our regular readers will have noticed we’ve been absent for a couple of months on social media. The coronavirus outbreak has had, and continues to have, a massive impact on people’s personal and working lives. We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and coping as well as possible.

We put our PHE Screening Twitter account and this blog on hold as England went into lockdown. This was to ensure that coronavirus-related screening information came consistently from a single national source – NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI).

Another reason is that many of our staff have been involved in the response to coronavirus in a variety of ways. Some have been seconded to full time coronavirus-related posts. Some are supporting PHE coronavirus ‘cells’, assisting with administration, research, data collection, information and publishing.

Our team, like people across the whole health system, has rapidly transitioned from ‘business as usual’ to new ways and areas of working.

Advice and guidance

PHE Screening has provided expert advice and guidance about screening to the NHSEI Public Health Commissioning and Operations Team. We are working closely with them to support their efforts to manage the impact of coronavirus on screening services.

We are working with NHSEI and other stakeholders in programme-specific ‘task and finish’ groups to advise how services can best be restored in places where necessary. Technical guidance has been produced and shared with local public health commissioners for wider dissemination.

The NHSEI-led task and finish groups were tasked with responding to COVID-19, as well as providing business as usual governance across screening and immunisation.

New 'normal'

At the time of writing, the lockdown in England remains in place, albeit with some easing of restrictions. Our team is largely working from home, wrangling with Skype and Microsoft Teams.

Some changes to our ways of working due to coronavirus have proved very successful and will probably mean permanent changes in some of the things we do. Online meetings, consultations and collaborations will inevitably become more prominent.

As we continue to move towards the provision of digital public information to support screening, we are trialling online focus groups so we can continue to gather this vital feedback.

Our methods of engagement have really expanded, and even the most technophobe among us have had to adapt!

We’ve been impressed by innovations within local NHS services, such as virtual antenatal booking appointments, and we’ll be blogging soon about how we can support you to provide screening information in this context.

Get in touch

For the time being this blog will focus on essential information to help support screening services.

We would welcome your ideas and feedback via the screening helpdesk about what you would like us to include.

PHE Screening blog

The PHE Screening blog provides 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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