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NHS abdominal aortic aneurysm screening virtual clinical skills trainer events rated a success

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Our virtual meetings for clinical skills trainers and QA leads were rated positively

PHE Screening hosted 4 virtual meetings for clinical skills trainers (CSTs) and quality assurance (QA) leads working in the NHS AAA Screening Programme throughout September and October 2020.

We planned to hold face to face meetings around the country. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adapt and move online. We felt it was important to proceed with the meetings so that CSTs and QA leads had the opportunity to discuss the new local screening technician annual assessments and the image quality assurance guidance.

The meetings

We hosted one meeting for each of the North, South, Midlands and East, and London regions. We kept them short (just 2.5 hours) as online meetings are more tiring than face to face meetings, and we wanted to avoid pulling staff away from their clinical work for too long.

The agenda items included an update on the AAA screening programme, the screening technician assessment process, image quality assurance guidance and a discussion of cases from clinical practice. Thank you to the CSTs who shared their experiences and contributed to the sessions.

One session on ‘failing to fail’ aimed to remind attendees of:

  • the importance of recognising when a screening technician is not meeting the satisfactory standard of competency required
  • the potential consequences on the individuals screened, the screening service and the screening technician


We asked attendees to complete a short evaluation to help us better plan future meetings. Thirty-one of the 59 CSTs and QA leads who attended the meetings completed the evaluation survey.

We were pleased that all respondents were positive about the meeting overall - 52% rated them as excellent and 48% as good.

We asked attendees to rate various aspects of the meetings, including:

  • the presentation on the screening technician assessment process (quality, fitness for purpose and amount of detail) - across all 3 criteria, 97% rated as excellent or good and 3% were neutral
  • how confident they felt in applying the new annual competency assessment process - 48% were very confident, 42% confident and 10% neutral
  • how confident they felt in applying the new screening technician assessment process - 48% were very confident, 42% confident and 10% neutral
  • the discussion of the image quality guidance (quality, fitness for purpose and amount of detail) - across all 3 criteria, 60% rated as excellent and 40% as good
  • the session on ‘failing to fail’ – the quality was rated excellent by 42% and good by 48%, fitness for purpose was rated excellent by 48% and good by 39%, and the amount of detail was rated excellent by 42% and good by 45% (the remaining responses were neutral)


We tried to keep the meetings interactive. For example, we used an audio recording as part of the session on ‘failing to fail’ and asked attendees to anonymously respond to questions on an interactive presentation using their smartphones.

Revising recovery training for annual assessments

Following feedback from these meetings, we will be revising the recovery training that screening technicians are required to undertake if they have a conditional outcome on their annual assessment. We plan to make the recovery training process specific to the assessment elements for which the screening technician has not achieved a satisfactory standard.

Feedback comments

We received some good feedback comments, including:

This was one of the most constructive and informative digital meetings I have been to. Information was very supportive.

All contributors coped with the technology to present a worthwhile event. Ideal via Teams - only a couple of hours of time taken for it, leaving rest of day for clinical work.

I still believe it is important to have an external assessor at the annual assessment to remove any element of bias.

Personally, I liked the online event. I would NOT have been able to attend any of the dates in person due to annual leave and other commitments. So, the opportunity to have a virtual meeting was to me a bonus, and I hope that in the future this option is offered.

The CST networking session was really good and valuable. I actually felt it worked even better this way than in person as it was more focussed. I would certainly be interested in future sessions.

Considering the remote nature of the meeting I found it very informative. It answered the questions I had in mind and was clear and concise. Obviously would be better in person but nonetheless, it was very good.

Thank you to everyone that attended the sessions and gave us feedback. It’s never too late to feed back on the meetings or share your experience of the new assessment process. You can do so by dropping us an email.

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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