Appointments for routine adult cancer and screening programmes


NHS England has issued a letter to providers confirming that the London COVID-19 Oversight Group agreed on 25 March to reschedule appointments for routine adult and cancer screening programmes (AAA, bowel, breast, cervical and DESP). 

The rescheduling will occur as follows:

  • Rescheduling of all routine invitations for primary screening for an initial period of two weeks. A more detailed recommendation for each programme is contained in the attached letter.
  • Temporarily stop initiatives to increase screening coverage.
  • Work with relevant clinicians to develop protocols for people who have already had a positive test as to what action should be taken to, as far as possible, follow the routine screening pathway, taking account of whether:
    • the individual meets the criteria of being vulnerable to COVID-19;
    • the patient has possible symptoms of COVID-19;
    • the risks to the individual from delaying the diagnosis of screen detected disease is greater than the risk COVID-19 infection.
  • This agreement does not affect the antenatal and newborn screening programmes or the childhood immunisation programme at this stage - these programmes will continue.

Please note:

  • Over the coming weeks the advice for adult and cancer screening programmes is likely to change as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.
  • NHSE is awaiting clinical and technical guidelines to be published for each programme to ensure that people already on a screening pathway are managed in an appropriate and safe manner.
  • NHSE expects the length of the ‘pause’ to be extended from the original two weeks.
  • We will distribute updated information and guidance on all of the above as soon as it is available.