A deeply concerning picture of the state of screening programmes in England

Health Foundation response to the NAO's investigation into the management of health screening

31 January 2019

Rebecca Fisher, GP and Health Foundation policy fellow, said:

‘Today’s report paints a deeply concerning picture of the state of screening programmes in England, with missed targets, inconsistent coverage, and aging IT systems.

‘England currently offers screening for breast, cervical and bowel cancers. Although the overall proportion of cancers detected through screening is relatively low – 6% of all cancer diagnoses follow screening – by detecting pre-cancerous changes, or early stage cancers, screening saves lives. For example, evidence suggests that screening currently prevents 70% of cervical cancer deaths; this could increase to 83% if everyone who is eligible attended.

‘The public should be encouraged to attend screening, but they must be able to trust the quality of the services they are being offered. Today’s report highlights an urgent need for investment in the IT and equipment required to make improvements. Policymakers must also consider how to most efficiently run screening programmes to ensure that these potentially life-saving services are equally available right across the country.’

Media contact

Creina Lilburne
020 7664 4647

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