Equitable access to screening: statutory duties under Equality Act

Statutory guidance to help health professionals provide an inclusive screening programme to all eligible people.

Equitable access to screening

All eligible populations should have access to screening and understand the benefits and risks.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 includes specific duties for providers and commissioners of NHS Screening Programmes in regard to reducing health inequalities between the people of England.

Under the act, screening programmes should pay particular attention to reaching people with the 9 protected characteristics.

Other sections of the population who do not have a protected characteristic should still have access to screening in a way that meets their needs.


A 2016 review of different ways to improve participation in cancer screening found that some methods are particularly effective. These include:

  • pre-screening reminders
  • GP endorsement
  • personalised reminders for non-participants
Published 1 March 2013
Last updated 27 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated to include the evaluation of interventions to improve participation in cancer screening services.

  2. First published.