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New guidance for carers aims to reduce unfair barriers to screening

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PHE has published a new guide to screening for carers and care providers

Many of the conditions we screen for are more common in under-served groups than the rest of the population. Despite this, we know people in under-served groups are often less likely to be screened.

These under-served populations include many people who face barriers in accessing services due to a range of factors including:

  • physical and learning disabilities
  • age
  • serious mental illness

Carers and care providers play an essential role in enabling many of these people to understand and access screening if they wish to do so. That is why we have developed and published new national screening guidance on GOV.UK to support carers.

Local screening providers should direct carers to this guidance to help make sure people who need additional support can understand and access screening.

PHE Director of Screening Professor Anne Mackie said:

Caring is a very demanding role that is often not fully understood or valued, which is why it is so important to give carers and care providers as much support as we can. I urge local screening providers, commissioners and other partners to direct carers and care providers to this new guidance so they can help the people they care for to understand and access screening if they wish to do so.

Wide-ranging consultation process

In developing the new guidance we consulted with a wide range of experts including:

  • Carers UK
  • National Development Team for Inclusion
  • British Institute of Learning Disabilities
  • PHE’s national NHS screening programme teams
  • regional learning disability networks and charities
  • learning disability nurses

In the guidance, the term carer includes anyone, including children and adults, who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their carer’s support.

The new publication includes:

  • summary information and animations on all 11 national NHS national screening programmes, with links to additional accessible information
  • principles of the Mental Capacity Act and decisions on assessing mental capacity
  • how to make best interests decisions
  • importance of services making reasonable adjustments for people who need them
  • shared learning examples of initiatives to reduce barriers to screening
  • a reminder that carers should also look after their own health, including accessing screening themselves, if they would like to

Julie Tucker, Macmillan Project Manager (Cancer and Learning Disabilities) for North East & Cumbria Learning Disability Network, said:

Supporting carers with good quality, easily accessible information is essential in helping carers support the people they care for in accessing screening. To ensure the information is easy to find we all need to play our part in sharing the new resource through our different networks, whether that be through our community voluntary sector, specific NHS England clinical networks, cancer alliances or primary care. Only by helping to share the information as widely as possible will we support reducing the inequalities many under-served populations face.

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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