Are National Screening Programmes currently operating?
Reviewed 21 January 2021
The National Screening Unit has advised that under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3, cancer screening programmes are continuing to operate, with appropriate safeguards in place to keep participants and staff safe. Cervical and breast screening will continue for most women. The National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) advises that invitations and home testing kits will continue to be sent out. If a FIT kit is received in the mail, it should be completed and returned as soon as possible. The Ministry has asked for practices to urge participants in the NBSP to complete and return kits without delay as there are signs of a drop off due to COVID-19 uncertainty.
Invitations for cervical screening should prioritise those who are overdue for screening or on early recall, prioritising Māori, Pacific, Asian and migrant and refugee women, and women 25-29 years. The decision to require patients with existing medical conditions to attend for a screening appointment is to be made on a case-by-case basis. Screening should not be delayed more than three months and women with symptoms should be seen promptly.
Referrals to colposcopy are to continue. Anyone with cytologic or clinical suspicion of invasive cancer is to be referred urgently for specialist assessment. Women should be advised that there could be some delays in being seen at colposcopy, particularly if referred with low-grade changes.
Visit the National Screening Unit website for more information.