Abdominal aortic aneursym screening: education and training

Training and continuing professional development (CPD) for staff working in the abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening programme in England.

This guide sets out the education and training requirements for healthcare professionals working in the abdominal aortic aneurysm screening programme.

It includes links to resources for training and assessment of staff.


E-learning developed by the NHS screening programmes is available on the e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) website. This includes the Public Health England (PHE) ‘Introduction to population screening’ module, which explains what screening is and how screening programmes are implemented in the NHS.

Health screener diploma

The level 3 health screener diploma is the required training programme for new AAA screening technicians.

Three AAA screening programme specific units are included in the health screener diploma.

  1. Principles of ultrasound for AAA screening.
  2. Principles of AAA screening and treatment.
  3. Undertake AAA screening unit.

The diploma is the recommended national training programme for new screening technicians and successful completion is required to assure the provider of the technician’s competence to undertake screening safely, independently and in line with programme standards.

E-learning to support the health screener diploma

There are 2 e-learning units that support the ‘principles of ultrasound for AAA screening’ and ‘principles of AAA screening and treatment’ units of the health screener diploma.

Sign up for e-LfH to access these units.

These e-learning units provide essential learning and additional learning will be required. Screening technicians are supported by clinical skills trainers (CSTs) to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills.

Learners must complete the end of unit quiz and will receive a certificate to use as evidence of completion.

AAA trainee screening technician logbook

Complete the AAA trainee screening technician logbook to evidence the specific learning outcomes for the ‘Undertake AAA screening’ unit of the health screener diploma.

Screening technicians: annual competence assessment

Screening technicians are required to maintain their competence.

Competence assessment includes:

Screening technicians are required to successfully complete both assessments to continue to screen independently.

Knowledge assessment

Screening technicians should complete the AAA screening technician e-learning module to:

  • retain their knowledge of the key physical principles required when undertaking the screening test
  • ensure they maintain their skills in image optimisation to obtain the highest quality image

Scanning assessment

Assessments are carried out by CSTs. Screening technicians are observed undertaking a AAA screening clinic.

There are 2 possible outcomes from the assessment:

  • competent
  • conditional

If competent, this means the screening technician has reached the satisfactory NHS AAA screening programme standard for all elements assessed.

The assessment is repeated in 12 months’ time.

If conditional, the screening technician has not reached a satisfactory standard in one or more of the elements assessed.

The screening technician is required to have a repeat scanning assessment within 12 weeks following a period of recovery training.

Clinical skills trainers

Read the CST handbook for details on the training and qualifications required for ultrasound professionals who wish to undertake the role of CST within AAA.

Before completing required training, CSTs cannot:

  • undertake clinic observations or competency assessments of screening technicians
  • complete any internal quality assurance of images

CST training

The CST training has 3 parts. The programme clinical director is responsible for the sign off and document completion of each part.

  1. Successfully complete the required e-learning units.

  2. Complete half a day shadowing a trained CST or QA lead.

  3. Screening Management and Reporting Tool (SMaRT) and data session with co-ordinator.

CST: assess the level 3 health screener diploma

To provide the level 3 diploma all local AAA screening services should have at least one individual working towards or who has completed a level 3 qualification in assessing vocational achievement.

Local screening services should decide who is best placed to hold this qualification. For contingency planning, local screening services should consider having access to more than one person who holds the qualification.

If the CST is not required to hold this qualification, they will act as an expert witness for the purpose of signing off the competencies the trainee screening technician is required to achieve when working through the health screener diploma.

Semi-independent scanning

Trainee screening technicians may screen patients semi-independently within the screening programme while completing the health screener diploma.

To do this, they have to successfully complete the assessments and sign off outlined in the AAA trainee screening technician logbook.

Internal quality assurance framework

Quality assurance leads or CSTs should use the internal quality assurance (IQA) framework to assess and record the quality of the images taken by screening technicians.

Local services should follow this framework, to ensure staff competency and quality.

Education and training: all screening programmes

This includes:

  • the screening timeline
  • events
Published 1 January 2016
Last updated 18 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance to reflect the change from reaccreditation to annual competence assessment.

  2. Clarified the importance of the screener diploma.

  3. First published.