Changes to National Screening Programmes at Alert Level 3
5/05/2020 4:27:58 p.m.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Changes to National Screening Programmes at Alert Level 3

The move to Government COVID-19 Alert Level 3 on Monday 27 April enables essential preventative health care to continue. This includes screening programmes specifically: the antenatal, newborn and cancer screening programmes which resume with some important changes to keep people safe.

The key changes for each of the screening programmes are:

Breast screening will gradually resume during Alert Level 3

• Breast screening will resume at reduced capacity initially with priority women and those who missed their appointment at Alert Level 4 the first to receive a screening appointment. Those with existing medical conditions will not be invited to screen during Alert Level 3 as they are still safer to stay in their own bubble.
• All participants who were waiting for assessment during Government Alert Level 4 will be offered assessment.

Cervical screening will gradually resume during Alert Level 3

• Routine cervical screening will gradually resume, with priority given to annual surveillance rescreens, overdue screens, and priority populations. For those who are 70 + or with existing medical conditions, the decision to screen will be made on a case-by-case basis
• There will be continued triage / assessment of patients with symptoms of abnormal bleeding
• Women who need to be seen urgently for colposcopy are prioritised, however we expect some delays in women with low-grade results being seen

Bowel screening will continue to be ‘on hold’ during Alert Level 3

This decision will be regularly reviewed so that we can re-start the programme as soon as it is safe to do so but no earlier than 22 May 2020. In the meantime:
• There will be no new or two yearly recall invitations sent out during this time
• The National Bowel Screening Programme is working with the ten screening DHBs to identify an appropriate date to restart the programme
• DHBs will continue to prioritise urgent colonoscopies and screening colonoscopies will resume as soon as feasible.

Antenatal and newborn screening services will continue to be provided

• All programmes will continue to operate under Alert Level 3, with changes to ensure safety of staff and mothers and their babies
• Newborn hearing screening provision will be extended to include screening in outpatient clinics for prioritised cases in addition to hospital births
• Diagnostic audiology will be provided for acute and prioritised cases only
• Paediatric audiology staff will support implementation of the COVID-19 newborn hearing screening recovery plan by completing screening on babies two months of age or older.

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