National screening programmes across Scotland were temporarily paused by the Scottish Government at the end of March 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. The affected screening programmes were:
- breast screening (mammograms)
- cervical screening (smear tests)
- bowel screening (home test kits)
- abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening (ultrasound of abdomen)
- diabetic retinopathy screening (images taken of the eye)
The Scottish Government took this difficult decision based on clinical advice. Our National Services Division (NSD) colleagues, who coordinate the screening programmes across Scotland, swiftly took steps to pause screening programmes and began rigorous scenario planning.
Once screening programmes were paused, we immediately started planning to support the safe restarting of these services – this meant we could plan effectively to ensure patient and staff safety in response to COVID-19.