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Published: 26 April 2023

People at the centre of new strategy published by the National Screening Service

The National Screening Service (NSS) has launched its first strategy setting out a clear direction for the service over the next five years.

Choose Screening, the NSS Strategy 2023-2027, was developed following an extensive consultation process with the people who are at the heart of our services – our screening participants, our staff and key stakeholder groups. We conducted one-to-one interviews, focus groups and workshops, and invited written submissions. The opinions and expertise of all these people helped us gain valuable insights to inform the development of the strategy.

This milestone for the NSS comes at a time of increasing demand for health services, with a focus on reducing the impact of disease through prevention and early detection measures. Population-based screening programmes are a key part of Ireland’s strategy for improving the health of our nation. This new strategy provides a clear vision of what we hope to achieve through these programmes: “To work together to save lives and improve people’s health”.

Putting people at the centre of what we do – developing, delivering and improving our services - and working in partnership with our stakeholders are essential to achieving this vision. This is a running theme across the three strategic priorities within the plan, as follows:

  • Engagement and Partnership: we will develop new partnerships, improve equity and participation in our screening programmes, and improve communications - building trust and confidence in the service to support people to make informed choices about taking part in screening.
  • Operational Excellence: we will ensure Ireland is a world leader in the delivery of evidence-based, quality assured population-based screening programmes by working with our partners and with the public to increase screening uptake, improve access to our programmes, and share our expertise nationally and internationally.
  • Service Development: we will lead in the development and implementation of new and innovative ways of delivering and improving our programmes, pilot new evidence-based initiatives, and support the introduction of any new screening programmes in Ireland.

To enable us to achieve these goals, the NSS is committed to developing a supportive environment where staff feel valued and empowered to be the best they can be; to deliver high-quality services underpinned by a quality assurance policy framework and by our values of care, compassion, trust and learning. Effective leadership and good governance will drive this culture of excellence and continuous improvement; and we will strengthen our service delivery by using advances in information technology to improve our performance and efficiency.

As we move forward to implement the plan, it will remain a live document so that we can adapt to the emerging needs of our changing population. Over two million people in Ireland are eligible for at least one screening programme. Prevention and early recognition of disease is our mission; it’s why we exist and is our motivation to increase trust and confidence in screening and to address barriers that discourage people from attending these vital services.

Launching the strategy, Fiona Murphy, Chief Executive of NSS said “Uptake of our screening is crucial to ensuring screening is effective. It is a priority for us that all eligible people can access our services.”

Some of this work has already begun at NSS. We are working with screening participants and our partners to gain a better understanding of why some people do not access screening services. This will inform the development of a framework to address and improve equity across all of our screening programmes.

Screening is a choice for people, and one we wish to empower people to make. Therefore a key objective of our strategy is to improve health literacy. We want more people to be able to access information that helps them understand the importance and benefits of regular screening. We want more people to feel fully informed to make individual choices about screening. We are committed to continuing our work with our screening participants, staff and stakeholders to improve outcomes for the populations we serve.

Collectively, we have developed a shared vision. Collectively, we have found common goals that will help us work better together over the next five years. Collectively, we can reach and empower more people to choose screening.

Together, we can make a difference.

  • Read the strategy in full here
  • Listen to Episode 16 of of the HSE Talking Health & Wellbeing podcast, where host Fergal Fox chats with our Chief Executive Fiona Murphy and Grace Rattigan, one of our Patient and Public Partnership (PPP) representatives about the significance of a person-centred approach in developing our strategy, and how we aim to ensure that screening is an informed choice for people.
  • Read more about how we developed our strategy here.
  • Follow us on Twitter @NSShse to keep up to date about our services and programmes.