Population screening programmes – guidance

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.

Read more about NHS population screening.

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

The UK NSC has published its process for reviewing the evidence relating to the introduction, modification and cessation of national population screening programmes.

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.

Screening programmes

There are currently 6 antenatal and newborn programmes in the England:

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 women:

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: