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About population screening

Published on 13 April 2022

Why we run the screening programmes

Screening programmes detect early signs of disease and provide a reliable method of referral for diagnostic testing and further treatment.

Screening in itself is not indicative of the presence of disease. In order for a screening programme to be considered for national designation, it must be acceptably accurate and designed to test for a disease where earlier detection and intervention would be of benefit to the patient.

We work with boards to coordinate and commission elements of Scotland’s eight national population screening programmes:

Coordination means we bring together the people who commission screening, including:

  • NHSS boards
  • public health experts
  • programme clinicians
  • managers and staff
  • IT and communication experts

Alongside others, they connect to discuss and agree protocols and pathways. As the programme helps to continuously improve services, good risk and adverse event management are also taken into account.

We also commission:

  • some elements of each of the breast and bowel screening programmes
  • the laboratories for cervical screening
  • the pregnancy and newborn bloodspot screening programmes

Screening policy is set by the Scottish Government Health Directorates on the advice of the UK National Screening Committee.

Find out more about each programme by following the links above.

Participants can find more information on the NHS inform website.