National Bowel Screening programme
LLR LMC has received a query relating GPs responsibility relating to the national Bowel Screening programme which we believe is valuable to share.
Please see advice and guidance as follows:
- Sending a letter on practice headed paper infer practice/GP culpability:
No, because national bowel screening is not part of General Medical Services, it’s a service commissioned by NHSE and provided by Public Health England. If practices are intending to send letters on behalf of public health to encourage patients to participate in the national screening programme, then the letter needs to be explicit in its content specifically about it being a letter on behalf of the national screening programme and NOT the practice directly. It should be clear as to the follow up and what the patients should expect.
- The GP is not initiating the referral but wish to clarify where they stand if the practice did not send the letter to follow up and a potential cancer was left undiagnosed resulting in a complaint/claim?:
None, as this is not a service that is being provided by General Practice. It’s a PHE led service and the specification is very clear on the SLA. Please refer to the national screening guidance document. Therefore, The clinical governance lies with the provider trust. ( Page 21 of the guidance document )
PHE, through the national screening programmes, is responsible for leading high-quality, uniform screening, providing accessible information to both the public and health care professionals, and developing and monitoring standards. It is also responsible for the delivery of national quality assurance, based at regional level, and for ensuring training and education for all those providing screening is developed, commissioned and delivered through appropriate partner organisations.
- Should the follow up letter for patients that do not attend screening be sent recorded delivery (as per the safety netting study)?:
No, as again it is NOT a service commissioned to be provided by general practice. The list is held nationally, please refer to the guidance document provided. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/service-spec-26.pdf