NHS screening programmes: information for GPs and practice staff

How to support patients in accessing population screening programmes and obtaining screening results.

Population screening programmes in England

There are 11 population screening programmes in England. There is also a risk management programme for prostate cancer, but currently no population screening programme.

Patient information leaflets

We provide patient information leaflets for:

Some programme leaflets are available in other languages, audio and large print formats, and ‘easy guides’.

We have a leaflet for transgender (trans) and non-binary people on breast, cervical, bowel cancer and AAA screening.

Adding or removing patients from screening lists

We provide guidance for people wishing to opt out of receiving invitations to screening.

Patients eligible for screening who wish to be reinstated to screening invitation lists, or check they are on the lists, should contact the relevant screening programmes (see contacts section below).

For cervical screening, GPs are responsible for contacting Primary Care Services England (PCSE) and asking for the patient’s details to be removed from the screening list. Patients cannot request this from PCSE themselves.

Screening results and appointments

The information below details how to follow up screening results for individual programmes, and how to make or change screening appointments.

Programme Action
AAA screening Patient to contact local AAA screening service
Breast screening Patient to contact local breast screening unit
Bowel cancer screening Patient to call free programme helpline on 0800 707 60 60. This includes patients over the screening invitation age range, who wish to request a test kit.
Cervical screening Results: GP to contact PCSE Appointments: patient to contact GP practice or other screening provider
Diabetic eye screening Patient to contact local DES programme

Programme contact details

The information below links to contact details for screening provider services.

Programme Contact details
AAA screening Local AAA screening service contact details are available via NHS.UK
Bowel cancer screening Free programme helpline: 0800 707 60 60
Breast screening Local breast screening unit details are available via NHS.UK
Diabetic eye screening Local DES service contact details are available via NHS.UK


e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) hosts a range of online education modules about screening.

Cervical sample taker training

Guidance is available on training for cervical sample takers which outlines responsibilities and training requirements. A diagnostic chart for sample takers is available to order on a one per consultation room basis.

A cervical screening e-learning module for sample takers is available which meets the requirements of the mandatory 3 year update training.

Programme overviews and GP roles

AAA screening programme overview
GPs can support the AAA screening programme by providing information and advice to men aged 65 who have received their screening invitation.

Bowel cancer screening programme overview
GPs can provide advice and information to men and women aged 55 who are invited for bowel scope screening, and people aged between 60 and 74 who are invited to use the test kit at home for bowel cancer.

Breast screening programme overview
GPs should remain aware of when women registered with their practice are next due to be invited to screening (every 3 years).

Cervical screening programme overview
Cervical screening is offered at most GP practices. If a GP practice does not offer cervical screening, it would be helpful to their patients to provide details of the nearest clinic offering this service.

DES programme overview
GPs are responsible for ensuring people with diabetes are recorded as such on their IT system. They should make sure that eligible people with diabetes are referred to their local diabetic eye screening programme.

Antenatal and newborn (ANNB) screening consists of 6 programmes.

Infectious diseases in pregnancy screening (IDPS) overview
For babies born to women with hepatitis B: in line with the Green Book, GPs should ensure they continue to receive immunisations and 1 year serology (ideally using DBS testing).

Newborn blood spot screening (NBS) overview
GPs can support the NBS programme by ensuring that all children under 1 year of age registered at their practice are issued with an NHS number, and are offered newborn bloodspot screening.

Fetal anomaly screening (FASP) overview
GPs and GP practices should ensure that women have timely access to midwifery services so information about FASP can be offered and discussed at the earliest opportunity. This allows women to make a personal informed choice about their screening options.

Sickle cell and thalassaemia (SCT) overview
GPs have a significant role in supporting the SCT programme by providing pre-conception counselling and the early referral (before 10 weeks) of pregnant women who are carriers to midwifery services.

Newborn hearing screening (NHSP) overview
GPs are notified of babies who have been referred to audiology from the NHSP. GPs can help the programme in early detection of hearing loss by encouraging all follow-up appointment attendances.

Newborn and infant physical examination (NIPE) overview
GPs should ensure all babies are offered the newborn and 6 to 8 week NIPE screening, and that all screen positive babies are appropriately referred and followed up according to screening standards.

Confidentiality and use of data

We provide information about confidentiality and use of patient identifiable data in the screening programmes.

PHE Screening helpdesk

For primary care queries about the national population screening programmes in England email or call 020 3682 0890.
Note: this is not a contact number for arranging screening appointments, finding out screening results, or providing clinical advice.

Published 23 October 2018