What is screening?

Screening is a way of finding out if people are at higher risk of a health problem so that early treatment can be offered or information given to help them make informed decisions.

The NHS offers a range of screening tests to different sections of the population.

When you are invited for screening, you will receive an information leaflet about the screening test. You can discuss any aspect of the screening test with your health professional.

For more information on NHS screening programmes please contact your local GP surgery or go to the NHS Choices Live Well website.


Diabetic eye screening

Eye screening is a key part of diabetes care. If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk of damage from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to sight loss if it’s not treated.

The screening can help in detecting the condition early before you notice any changes to your vision.

If retinopathy is detected early enough, treatment can stop it getting worse.

Everyone aged 12 and over with diabetes is offered screening once a year.

The check takes about half an hour and involves drops being put in your eyes to make your pupils larger. Photographs are then taken of the back of your eye. The camera does not come into contact with our eyes. The photographs are then sent to an expert to review them. A letter is sent to yourself and your GP letting you know the results of your screening.

Diabetic Eye Screening is available at: 

North Tees (Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees) South Tees (Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland)

·         One Life Hartlepool, Park Road, Hartlepool, TS24 7PW

·         Lawson Street Health Centre, Lawson Street, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1HY

For more information contact: 01642 704320

·         North Ormesby Health Village, 3 Trinity Mews, Middlesbrough, TS3 6AL

·         Cleveland Health Centre, Cleveland Shopping Centre, 20 Cleveland Square, Middlesbrough, TS1 2NX

·         Redcar Primary Care Hospital, West Dyke Road, Redcar, TS10 4NW

·         Eston Low Grange Health Centre, Normanby Road, Middlesbrough. TS6 6TD

·         Guisborough General Hospital, Northgate, Guisborough, TS14 6HZ

·         East Cleveland Hospital, Alford Road, Brotton, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 2FF


For more information contact: 01642 282677

Cervical screening

Cervical screening (previously known as a smear test) is offered to women aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix.

All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening:

  • aged 25 to 49 – every three years
  • aged 50 to 64 – every five years
  • over 65 – only women who haven’t been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests

The cervical screening test usually takes around five minutes to carry out. You’ll be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on a couch, although you can usually remain fully dressed if you’re wearing a loose skirt. The doctor or nurse will gently put an instrument, called a speculum, into your vagina. This holds the walls of the vagina open so the cervix can be seen. A small soft brush will be used to gently collect some cells from the surface of your cervix.

If you have had the HPV vaccine you will still need to attend cervical screening.

If you live within Redcar and Cleveland or Middlesbrough, information on the campaign running in your area can be found here.

Breast cancer screening

Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 (in some areas women may be invited earlier at 47 or continue to be invited later up until 73) to detect early signs of breast cancer; women aged 70 and over can self-refer.

Breast screening aims to find breast cancers early. It uses an X-ray called a mammogram that can spot cancers when they are too small to see or feel.

Breast screening is carried out at special clinics or mobile breast screening units. The procedure is carried out by female members of staff who take mammograms.

During screening, your breasts will be X-rayed one at a time. The breast is placed on the X-ray machine and gently but firmly compressed with a clear plate. Two X-rays are taken of each breast at different angles.

Bowel cancer screening

To detect cases of bowel cancer sooner, the NHS offers two types of bowel cancer screening to adults registered with a GP in England.

All men and women aged 60-74 are invited to carry out a faecal occult blood (FOB) test. Every two years, they’re sent a home test kit, which is used to collect a stool sample. The home testing kit is used to collect tiny stool samples on a special card. The card is then sealed in a hygienic freepost envelope and sent to the screening laboratory, where it will be checked for traces of blood that may not be visible to the naked eye, but could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

An additional one-off test called bowel scope screening is gradually being introduced in England. This is offered to men and women at the age of 55. It involves a doctor or nurse using a thin, flexible instrument to look inside the lower part of the bowel and remove any small growths, called polyps that could eventually turn into cancer. Bowel scope screening is done by a specially trained nurse or doctor at an NHS bowel cancer screening centre.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening is a way of detecting a dangerous swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta – the main blood vessel that runs from the heart, down through the abdomen to the rest of the body.

This swelling is far more common in men aged over 65 than it is in women and younger men, so men are invited for screening in the year they turn 65. If you are over 65 and not been tested you can request a test.

The screening test for AAA is an ultrasound scan of the abdomen that usually takes about 10-15 minutes. The screening technician will ask you to lift up your shirt and then run a small ultrasound scanner on your abdomen, which will allow the thickness of your aorta to be measured on a monitor. The technician will tell you the result straight away and your GP will also be informed.

AAA Screening is available at:

North Tees (Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees) South Tees (Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland)
·         One Life Hartlepool, Park Road, Hartlepool, TS24 7PW

·         Lawson Street Health Centre, Lawson Street, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1HY



·         North Ormesby Health Village, 3 Trinity Mews, Middlesbrough, TS3 6AL

·         Redcar Primary Care Hospital, West Dyke Road, Redcar, TS10 4NW


For more information contact 0191 445 2554


NHS Screening in Pregnancy

Anomaly Screening

Anomaly Screening is offered to all pregnant women.

A detailed ultrasound scan of your abdomen is usually carried out between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy. The scan will look in detail at the baby’s bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen. It allows the sonographer to look specifically for 11 conditions, some of which are very rare.

The scan usually takes around 30 minutes. Sometimes it is difficult to get a good picture if the baby is lying in an awkward position, if they are moving around a lot, or if you are above average weight. This does not mean there is anything to worry about.

Most scans show that the baby seems to be developing normally and no problems are found. If any problem is found or suspected, the sonographer may ask for another member of staff to look at the scan and give a second opinion. If you are offered further tests, you will be given more information about the tests so you can decide whether or not you want to have them.

More detailed information can at the NHS Choices anomaly screening

Infectious Diseases in Pregnancy Screening

This is part of routine antenatal screening and is offered and recommended for all pregnant women.

You will usually be offered the blood test at your booking appointment with a midwife, when you are around 8-12 weeks pregnant.

You’ll be offered this blood test to find out if you:

  • have hepatitis B
  • have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • have syphilis

If you already know you have HIV or hepatitis B, you will need early specialist appointments to plan your care in pregnancy.

Your midwife will usually discuss your results with you before or at your next antenatal visit.

A specialist midwife will contact you if you have a positive test result for hepatitis B, HIV or syphilis. This is to arrange appointments where you can discuss your results and arrange referral to specialist care services. More information can be found at NHS Choices, Blood screening 

 Sickle cell and Thalassaemia Screening

Sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassaemia major are inherited blood disorders. If you are a carrier of sickle cell or thalassaemia, you can pass these conditions on to your baby.

All pregnant women in England are offered a blood test to find out if they carry a gene for thalassaemia, and those at high risk of being a sickle cell carrier are offered a test for sickle cell disease.

Screening in pregnancy for sickle cell and thalassaemia involves a blood test. It is best to have the blood test before you are 10 weeks pregnant. More information can be found at NHS Choices, Sickle cell screening


NHS Screening for Newborn Babies

Newborn and Infant Physical Examination Screening

Within 72 hours of giving birth, all parents are offered a thorough physical examination for their baby. This includes babies who are born at home.

This examination includes specific screening tests to find out if your baby has any problems with their eyes, heart, hips and, in boys, the testicles (testes).

The health professional will give your baby a thorough physical examination. They will also ask you questions about how your baby is feeding, how alert they are, and about their general well being. Your baby will need to be undressed for part of the examination.

During the examination, the health professional will also:

  • look into your baby’s eyes with a special torch called an ophthalmoscope to check how their eyes look and move
  • listen to your baby’s heart to check their heart sounds
  • examine their hips to check the joints
  • examine baby boys to see if their testicles are in the right place

The 6 to 8 week screen is necessary as some conditions appear later in a child’s development.

The health professional carrying out the examination will give you the results straight away. If your baby needs referring for more tests, they will discuss this with you there and then, too. More information can be found at NHS Choices, new born physical exam

Newborn Blood Spot Screening

Every baby is offered newborn blood spot screening, also known as the heel prick test, ideally when they are five days old.

Newborn blood spot screening involves taking a blood sample to find out if your baby has one of nine rare but serious health conditions.

Some of these conditions are:

Most babies screened won’t have any of these conditions, but, for the few who do, the benefits of screening are enormous. Early treatment can improve their health and prevent severe disability, and even death.

You should receive the results either by letter or from a health professional by the time your baby is six to eight weeks old. You will be contacted sooner if your baby screens positive. This means they’re more likely to have one of the conditions tested for. More information available at NHS Choices, Newborn blood spot tests.

Newborn Hearing Screening

The test helps to identify babies who have moderate, severe and profound deafness and hearing impairment.

This means parents can get the support and advice they need right from the start. More information available at NHS Choices, Newborn page

Finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing language, speech, and communication skills. It will also help babies make the most of relationships with their family or carers from an early age.

If you give birth in hospital, you may be offered a newborn hearing test for your baby before you are discharged. In some areas it will be done by a health professional, healthcare assistant or health visitor within the first few weeks. Ideally, the test is done in the first four to five weeks, but it can be done at up to three months of age.

The test is called the automated otoacoustic emission (AOAE) test. It takes just a few minutes. A small soft-tipped earpiece is placed in your baby’s ear and gentle clicking sounds are played. When an ear receives sound, the inner part (called the cochlea) responds. This can be picked up by the screening equipment.

The AABR test involves placing three small sensors on your baby’s head and neck. Soft headphones are placed over your baby’s ears and gentle clicking sounds are played. This test takes between 5 and 15 minutes. These tests will not harm your baby in any way.

The test is highly recommended, but you don’t have to accept it. If you decide not to have the screening test, you will be given checklists to help you check on your baby’s hearing as they grow older. If you have any concerns, you should speak to your health visitor or GP.

You will be given your baby’s hearing test results as soon as the test is done. If your baby has a clear response in both ears, they are unlikely to have permanent hearing loss.

If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, tell your health visitor or GP.

Jan 10, 2016 | Posted by | Comments Off on Screening