The UK National Screening Committee and NHS Screening Programmes have become part of Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health.
Public Health England has been established to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and to reduce inequalities. It will lead on the development of a 21st-century health and wellbeing service, supporting local authorities and the NHS to deliver the greatest possible improvements in public health. It came into being in April 2013. For all corporate information please see www.gov.uk/phe
The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) is chaired by the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, advises Ministers and the NHS in the four UK countries about all aspects of screening and supports implementation of screening programmes. Using research evidence, pilot programmes and economic evaluation, it assesses the evidence for programmes against a set of internationally recognised criteria covering the condition, the test, the treatment options and the effectiveness and acceptability of the screening programme. Assessing programmes in this way is intended to ensure that they do more good than harm at a reasonable cost. The UK NSC also sets up practical mechanisms to oversee the introduction of new programmes in the English NHS and monitors effectiveness and quality of these programmes.
2. Remit and Terms of Reference of the UK NSC
(updated November 2011)
The remit and terms of reference of the UK NSC are:
i. The UK NSC will advise Ministers and the NHS in all four UK countries about:
- the case for implementing new population screening programmes not presently provided by the NHS within each of the countries in the UK;
- screening technologies of proven effectiveness but which require controlled and well-managed introduction;
- the case for continuing, modifying or withdrawing existing population screening programmes. In particular, programmes inadequately evaluated or of doubtful effectiveness, quality, or value;
- Generic issues relating to screening programmes and policy.
ii. The UK NSC will call on sound evidence to inform its advice and recommendations. In particular:
- calling on the advice of the Health Technology Assessment Programme's Diagnostic Technologies and Screening Panel;
- discussing key research needs with the DH Policy Research Programme and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in England as well as the Chief Scientist's Office and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (the organisation which carries out Health Technology Assessments in Scotland);
- calling on other and appropriate sources of sound evidence from within and outside the NHS, including having regard to the broad balance of benefits and costs, and the effective use of available resources.
iii. The UK NSC will agree standards for the new programmes, which can be used as a basis for discussion by the standard setting bodies in the other UK countries, as well as advise on their implementation in the NHS;
iv. The UK NSC will be informed by reports from the Advisory Groups or committees for specific programmes in each country on the performance of those programmes and issues that arise which would have relevance to general screening policy.
» View the UK NSC's criteria for appraising the viability, effectiveness and appropriateness of a screening programme
3. Relationship with the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes
The UK National Screening Committee is responsible for making recommendations for screening across all clinical areas, including cancer.
Once a new screening programme has been recommended, the responsibility for supporting implementation falls to one of two organisations: any new programme relating to existing cancer programmes is overseen by the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, including monitoring roll-out and developing relevant literature such as patient information. The implementation of all non-cancer screening programmes is supported by the UK National Screening Committee.
The UK National Screening Committee was established in 1996. In addition to advising Ministers and the NHS in the four UK countries about all aspects of screening, it also supports the implementation of 8 non-cancer antenatal, newborn and adult screening programmes. Dr Anne Mackie is Director of UK National Screening Committee.
The NHS Cancer Screening Programmes were established in 1988 and oversee the implementation of the breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening programmes. Professor Julietta Patnick is Director of Cancer Screening Programmes.