7.1: National screening and recall

7.1: National screening and recall

Standard - what we'll be assessing on Evidence to provide for assessment

National screening unit programmes: The practice meets the screening and recall requirements for their enrolled and eligible population as per the guidelines

  • Describe how patients are referred to national screening programmes. 
  • Audit results which differentiate screening rates by ethnicity and Māori data included in the Māori Health Plan.
  • Identify who on the team is responsible for the recall procedure and a documented process how recalls are undertaken.
  • Explain any additional approaches made to ensure equitable screening rates for under-screened populations (e.g. Māori and Pasifika).

National Screening unit programmes

The National Screening Unit (NSU) is a separate unit of the Ministry of Health, and is responsible for the safety, effectiveness and quality of health and disability screening programmes.

Dr Jason Tuhoe and his daughter at the playground
Dr Jason Tuhoe and his daughter at the playground

Auditing screening and recall activities

At the root of all effective screening and recall activities is good information about the patients.

If the practice systematically uses recognised disease codes in the PMS, this will help classify the patients so the team can identify those eligible for screening and those requiring recall and identify any issues for groups within the general patient population.

The practice needs to consider ways to:

  • identify patients eligible for screening and recall (for example, query builds on the PMS).
  • update the patient dashboard (if used) and recalls as required.
  • identify Māori screening rates
  • identify gaps and those patients who have missed out on previous screenings.
  • target under-served groups to improve health equity outcomes.
  • communicate with eligible patients in a way that suits them (for example, texts, telephone, letters, email).
  • work with other organisations and agencies to come up with strategies to reach all the target populations (for example, outreach services).
  • Improve uptake by eligible populations.
  • identify and reduce inequities for people in different groups in the population including for Māori.
  • engage with, and raise awareness in, under-screened populations (for example, education sessions, resources).
  • help remove barriers for patients and improve health equity outcomes (for example, by arranging transport, evening and weekend clinics, mobile services, outreach programmes). For an example see how to increase the uptake of cervical screening: a profile of success. 
  • Ensure quality principles.

Having good data and using coding also enables the practice to audit the population to identify outcomes for patients in national screening and recall programmes. For example, have the patients benefited from being linked to programmes such as cervical screening? In addition, specific characteristics identified (e.g. age, gender or ethnicity) may be a precursor to diagnosis or treatment.

Requests for information can be directed to NSU’s various programmes.

Screening programmes recall procedure

A documented screening programmes recall procedure must include:

  • methods used to recall patients
  • the process
  • the frequency of recalls 
  • opportunistic methods
  • documentation and alert systems
  • roles and responsibilities of all team members (including non-clinical team members)
  • timelines.

Screening during a pandemic
In the event of a pandemic where patients are unable to attend the practice due to restrictions, your procedure needs to include how you would effectively manage patients with due or overdue recalls.