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Cancer screening services should be more ‘convenient’, says report

The NHS should offer online booking, out of hours appointments and text reminders to boost cancer screening rates, according to a report.

The interim review of national cancer screening times, by former CQC chief inspector Professor Sir Mike Richards, said practical measures could be introduced to make accessing screening services ‘more convenient’.

It found that over 11 million invitations for screening were sent by the NHS last year, but the proportion of women undergoing cervical screening is at the lowest for a decade, with uptake at 71% of eligible patients in 2017/18. 

The report said outdated IT systems had led to problems with monitoring the quality of current screening programmes.

Professor Richards said: ‘Our screening programmes have led the world and save around 9,000 lives every year. However, people live increasingly busy lives and we need to make having a screening appointment as simple and convenient as booking a plane ticket online.’

‘The technology exists in many other walks of life and by adopting it across the NHS we can help identify even more cancers early when they are easier to treat and save more lives.’

The review will now look at solutions to make the screening services ‘as effective as possible’, according to Professor Richards. The full report is expected later this year.

It follows the accusation that the NHS was ‘losing a grip’ on cancer screening, as rates hit a 21-year low.


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