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Public Health Wales screening programmes to restart

Screening programmes in Wales will start sending invitations and reminders again to people eligible for screening, starting with Cervical Screening Wales from the end of June.

The move follows the announcement in March of a pause in invitations for screening programmes, affecting Cervical Screening Wales, Breast Test Wales, Bowel Screening Wales, Diabetic Eye Screening Wales and Wales Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening.  The pause was a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Invitations and reminders for people who are now overdue screening will be sent based on clinical priority.  This will start with Cervical Screening Wales in the first month.  Cervical screening invitations will be sent to individuals overdue a non-routine repeat screening.  

Provided all key conditions remain safe for participants and staff, on a monthly basis invitations will be sent to individuals overdue a routine screening.  This will be followed by reminders for those who have missed appointments.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “I am pleased to see Public Health Wales will be able to re-start their cervical cancer screening programme by the end of the month, to be followed by other cancer screenings this summer.

“Pausing some screenings was a difficult but necessary decision to allow the NHS to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Cancer services in Wales have been continuing throughout the Covid pandemic and people with possible symptoms of cancer should not put off seeking help and advice. Services will look different, with some appointments being done remotely and if you do need to be seen in person then clinicians may be wearing protective equipment.  But the NHS is still delivering cancer services for you, when you need them.”

Dr Sharon Hillier, Director of Screening Division, Public Health Wales said:

“We would like to thank the public for their understanding and patience following the announcement of a pause in screening services in March.

“We have been in unprecedented times, and pausing the invitations for these programmes was a difficult recommendation for us to make.  However we had to ensure that NHS services were able to focus as matter of priority to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as to reduce the need for participants’ travel and potential contact with others at the peak of the pandemic.

“However, we are now in a position to restart some of these programmes, beginning with Cervical Screening Wales at the end of June.  We are taking a staged approach to restarting screening programmes based on clinical priority, and will keep the arrangements under constant review.”

As a next step, Public Health Wales aims to start to invite clinical priority groups for Breast Screening, Bowel screening and then Wales Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening and Diabetic Eye Screening Wales later on in the summer.  

Inviting all other individuals that are overdue for a screening programme will take many months. Individuals will be contacted in the usual way for the screening that they are eligible for.

Antenatal Screening Wales, Newborn Bloodspot Screening and Newborn Hearing Screening programmes have continued during the Coronavirus pandemic as these all have short window of time for prompt identification and treatment.  We are very grateful to our staff and colleagues for continuing to offer screening throughout this time.

Anyone who is worried that they may have symptoms of any of the conditions that we screen for should not wait, but should contact their GP without a delay.  Contact details of the programmes will be on your letter or on the programme website.