Report: Health screening in England falls short of targets

Breast, bowel, and cervical cancer screening programs in England have all failed to meet their targets in 2018, according to a report published on 1 February 2019 by the National Audit Office.

Cervical screening and breast screening at National Health Service (NHS) hospitals were both almost 9% short of their goal to cover 80% of eligible individuals. Bowel screening only narrowly missed its target of 60% coverage.

The report also confirmed that there were again delays in providing results of cervical screening exams to patients, with only half of women receiving their results within the first 14 days of the exam. Providers have not met this goal since 2015, and the backlog for samples approached nearly 100,000 in October last year, according to a recent article by BBC News.

One of the primary sources of these delays has been the continued use of antiquated yet complex information technology, according to the report. For example, convoluted IT issues have caused roughly 5,000 women to miss their invitations for breast screening.

"It is unacceptable that these important screening programs are being let down by complex and aging IT," member of Parliament Meg Hillier said in a statement. "The Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, and Public Health England need to get this fixed."

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