The NHS Scotland national screening programmes which were paused in March because of coronavirus (COVID-19) are set to resume safely, carefully and in a series of stages.
From 29 June 2020, anyone who was invited for cervical screening before the pause should contact their GP practice to make an appointment. This applies to anyone who was yet to make an appointment or who had made an appointment which was then cancelled.
Appointment invitations and reminders will be posted from mid-July, with invitations sent to those who receive more frequent (non-routine) cervical screening appointments first. Routine screening will recommence once NHS Scotland has caught up with non-routine appointments affected by the pause.
Diabetic retinopathy screening
From 6 July 2020, the diabetic retinopathy screening (DRS) programme will be inviting the participants at most clinical risk from developing diabetic retinopathy first.
Routine screening will resume once NHS Scotland has caught up appointments for those who are high priority.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening
From 6 July 2020, the abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) programme will be starting to invite men for screening. Appointment invitations will first be sent to men who are currently screened every three months (i.e. those with a medium AAA).
Screening of men who are screened yearly and routine screening will resume once NHS Scotland has caught up with those who are currently screened every three months.
From 3 August 2020, the breast screening service will resume.
Letters of invitation will start to be sent from 13 July 2020 to anyone who was invited for breast screening before the pause:
- who was unable to attend for any reason
- who had an appointment cancelled.
Screening invitations will slowly start to resume. It will take some time to fully restore the service.
Bowel screening colonoscopies have resumed. Your NHS Board will be in touch if you are due to attend an appointment. Bowel screening kits will be issued when NHS Scotland have caught up with colonoscopy appointments affected by the pause.
Existing appointments and invitations
NHS Scotland paused invitations and cancelled all issued screening appointments within a maximum of 48 hours of the decision to pause. Follow-up appointments and results for those participants who were screened will continue to be processed. Laboratory activity and testing capacity will be reviewed as the situation progresses.
Bowel screening kits will be issued once NHS Scotland have caught up with colonoscopy appointments. Kits that are returned will continue to be tested. However, participants will be asked to keep kits which have yet to be completed until the programme is restarted. Please note that for kits already issued and in participants’ homes, the expiry time is approximately 18-24 months.
Advice for the public
It is important to emphasise to patients that in between screening appointments, or as they wait for rescheduled appointments, they should continue to be aware of and act on any symptoms associated with the conditions being screened for.
Please reassure your patients that if they have concerns, they should call NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88 or contact a Screening Centre.
If patients are concerned about symptoms, they should contact their GP practice.
Commonly asked questions
We know patients may have some questions about the changes. NHS inform has added an information page with common questions (external site) in order to answer patients queries.