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  NHS Screening Programmes in England  
Note: This is for England only. Different schemes exist throughout the UK
Last Updated April 2014.

Screening - An Overview

Definition of Screening

Screening is a process of identifying apparently healthy people who may be at increased risk of a disease or condition. They can then be offered information, further tests and appropriate treatment to reduce their risk and/or any complications arising from the disease or condition.

Limitations of Screening

Screening has important ethical differences from clinical practice as the health service is targeting apparently healthy people, offering to help individuals to make better informed choices about their health. However, there are risks involved and it is important that people have realistic expectations of what a screening programme can deliver. Whilst screening has the potential to save lives or improve quality of life through early diagnosis of serious conditions, it is not a fool-proof process. Screening can reduce the risk of developing a condition or its complications but it cannot offer a guarantee of protection. In any screening programme, there is a minimum of false positive results (wrongly reported as having the condition) and false negative results (wrongly reported as not having the condition). The UK NSC (United Kingdom National Screening Committee) is increasingly presenting screening as risk reduction to emphasise this point.


Current Screening Programmes in England

Antenatal and Newborn

  • Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme
  • Infectious Diseases Screening Programme
  • Sickle cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme
  • Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme
  • Newborn and Infant Physical Examination Programme
  • Newborn Hearing Screening Programme

Young Person and Adult

  • Diabetic Eye Screening Programme
  • Abdominal Aortic ANeurysm (AAA) Screening Programme
  • Breast Screening Programme
  • Cervical Screening Programme
  • Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

Related Programmes

  • Prostate Cancer Risk Management (not screening)
  • National Chlamydia Screening Programme
  • NHS Health Check (vascular risk)





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Last Update: 31 January 2008