Agenda item

Diagnostic Screenings

To receive presentations from regional and local place partners on the commissioning, oversight and delivery of cancer screening programmes for Rotherham residents.


Consideration was given to a presentation by the Principal Screening and Immunisation Manager and the Screening and Immunisation Coordinator, on behalf of the Public Health Programme Team for NHS England, North East and Yorkshire. The presentation included an overview of screening initiatives; Key objectives achieved in 2021/22; an overview of the NHSE Governance of the screening and immunisation programme; service restoration following the pandemic and workstreams associated with cervical, breast and bowel cancer screenings; challenges and risks in delivering the programme; and objectives for Rotherham 2022/23.


In discussion, Members requested more information around reasons for unequal access of screening services and what is being done to address this health inequality. The response from partners noted the importance of finding out what are the priorities of a community and to understand the motivations of individuals. Meeting people where they are is more effective than giving out a ubiquitous generalised message that can miss a lot of people. The Programme fine tunes the delivery of messaging, for example, by thoughtfully deploying behavioural nudges within the delivery.


Members noted the communication channels and resources of the Council, and expressed interest in knowing more about the ways the Council might be able to help deliver key messaging across the Borough in respect of prevention and screenings. The response from NHSE noted the value of local expertise to extend the reach of collaborative working around community. NHSE is aware that social media can be used for more awareness of screening and prevention initiatives.


Members cited a noteworthy example of Deborah James’s work to reduce fear and increase ease of access. The response from officers noted the impact of depictions on BBC news and the importance of sustained, coordinated efforts to make sure that awareness does not drop off. It was clarified that the Trust provides access to two-week pathways and secondary care via GPs. There is access directly to equivalent tests via GPs. 


Members expressed concern that the younger cohort is not as eagerly taking up the screening offer and expressed interest in more details around the effect of vaccines on screening. The response from NHSE noted that vaccination had massive impacts on reducing cervical cancer. The instances of cancers have greatly reduced. There is a misperception that, because one has had a vaccination, one need not attend for screening. The vaccination is a priority, and the two go hand in hand. Once someone has received a vaccine, that gets recorded on a national system which links into the cervical screenings, allowing a much more individualised understanding of the benefits of vaccination. Next month, the service plans to re-evaluate the current offer, but it was noted that partners had not received any reports of people not being able to get appointments. The services were looking at options for access, dovetailing with work going on nationally to make appointments easier for women to book. If a patient rings up about something else, the script can be read around the invitation to screening.


Members requested clarification around how the service caters for people with disabilities, for example for people who need to make appointments in unique ways. The response from NHSE partners noted that the way the screening services work with patients with learning difficulties or additional needs is flagging patients with a known learning difficulty. Then, for example, the bowel screening hub will let the health facilitator know to find out what support is needed to do the kit. NHSE is giving GPs the resources to do the same for cervical screening also.


Members requested more information around how Rotherham benchmarks inh comparison with other areas in terms of uptake and participation. The response from the NHSE representative noted that Rotherham figures are better than the England average and that unvalidated data to date indicated an improving direction of travel. Reminder text messages issues have shown an increase in uptake. That data directly from providers is just starting to come through.


Members requested further detail about behavioural nudges. The response from NHSE collegues noted that this includes personalising letters, with chevrons going from green to amber to red, and with increasingly more direct messaging.




1.    That the report be noted.


2.    That the next update be submitted in 12 months’ time.


3.    That the outcomes of deep dives be circulated to Members as soon as these become available.


4.    To extend the reach of awareness campaigns and communications in respect of diagnostic screenings, that the Communications Team collaborate with NHSE partners where possible.



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