Evidence and recommendations: NHS population screening
This document explains the process for how conditions become part of NHS population screening.
Screening is the process of identifying individuals who may be at higher risk of a disease or condition amongst large populations of healthy people.
Once identified, those individuals can consider further tests, and healthcare providers can offer them interventions of benefit.
A screening programme needs to offer more benefit than harm, at a reasonable cost to the NHS.
Recommendations for screening
The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) makes recommendations on all aspects of population screening. The UK NSC’s database of recommendations sets out over 100 conditions, including recommendations to screen for more than 30.
Recommendations on whether to screen for a condition are based on internationally recognised criteria and a rigorous evidence review process.
The UK NSC meets 3 times a year to make new recommendations or update existing ones based on reviews of the best quality evidence available at this time. The annual evidence report summarises all the screening recommendations made during the year.
Evidence review process
This includes details of how to propose a new topic for consideration by the UK NSC, request an early update to a topic where there is new evidence or suggest a change to an existing screening programme.
There are currently 6 antenatal and newborn programmes in England:
- sickle cell and thalassaemia
- fetal anomaly
- infectious diseases in pregnancy
- newborn and infant physical examination
- newborn blood spot
- newborn hearing screening
The NHS young person and adult programmes screen for:
There are also 3 screening programmes that test for pre cancereous cell changes in the body.
In both men and women:
The annual NHS Screening Programmes in England report celebrates the work of the 11 programmes and includes high level data for each.
Screening in the rest of the UK
Each devolved administration is responsible for implementing screening programmes based on local need and the UK NSC’s recommendations. Find out more from each country:
Published: 1 January 2014
Updated: 30 November 2015
- Added link to annual NHS Screening Programmes in England report.
- Revised to link to new UK NSC evidence review process, now published.
- First published.