Published: 11 May 2023

An update on the development of a Strategic Framework to Improve Equity in Screening

“It’s important that we are not doing it to people but for people” PPP Rep

Participating in screening is a choice and at the National Screening Service (NSS) we want to make our services accessible to everyone who is eligible to use them and wants to participate. In March 2023, we published a blog explaining how the NSS is developing a Strategic Framework to Improve Equity in Screening. Since then, we have been gathering the perspectives of the people who use and deliver our screening services. Consultation meetings were held with representatives from the community, voluntary and statutory sector and with NSS staff. Their feedback will help to ensure that the framework is fit for purpose.

Here we explain how this framework is being co-produced and what we have learned.

Who we invited

We want our Framework to reflect the diversity of people who are eligible to access our screening services. We wanted to hear from those who experience barriers in accessing screening services in order to better understand what the barriers are and how we can help to reduce them.

We invited over 200 stakeholders to attend online consultations. We also invited NSS staff and our Patient and Public Partnership (PPP) members.

Who attended

A total of 67 people provided feedback. Two people provided feedback via a smart survey and 65 people attended one of five online consultations in February and March, 2023. Thirty-eight of these were NSS staff and members of our PPP Network, and 27 were from external groups such as: Pavee Point, Irish Deaf Society, the Marie Keating Foundation, SafetyNet, Diabetes Ireland, and RehabCare. We were delighted with the turnout and the variety of representatives and experiences of those who attended the meetings.

Our consultation process

Before we ran our consultation meetings, we completed a series of literature reviews and ran co-production workshops with our Equity Project Advisory Group. Through the workshops, the group identified the following five priority areas for improving equity in screening:

(1) Research and data

(2) Education, learning and development

(3) Communications

(4) Accessibility and inclusivity

(5) Partnerships

The group identified high-level actions under each priority areas. We called these our ‘commitments’.

We shared the priority areas and commitments in a document as part of our invitation to participate in the consultations. We discussed this document during our consultation meetings. Participants provided feedback on the document.

There was great discussion during each consultation, leading to rich feedback and suggestions. Overall, there was support for the five priority areas and recommendations were taken on board regarding the commitments.

What we learned

The consultations provided an opportunity for everyone involved to network, share learning and advocate for those who have difficulty participating in screening. We learned a lot about how to set up accessible and inclusive meetings.

Our goal was to ensure that our consultations were inclusive, i.e. that they could be accessed by anyone with additional needs. To accommodate people with a hearing impairment, Irish Sign Language (ISL) interpreters attended meetings. We learned that Zoom is preferred by ISL interpreters because it has an automated feature to capture the spoken word; it makes it easy for people to see the interpreter’s hands; and participants can adjust the size of their feed so that the interpreter’s video is larger than others. Depending on the length of a meeting, we learned that two or more ISL interpreters may be needed to allow interpreters share the signing responsibility and take a break.

We also learned about the need to provide Screen Reader Friendly documents for people who are visually impaired. Our original consultation documents were not Screen Reader Friendly and when informed of that by representatives of Voice of Vision Impairment, we updated documents to make them accessible.

These learnings will help us as we continue to build our knowledge and understanding of barriers to access and to address them, where possible.

We would like to thank all participants for their time and contributions.

What participants said

Examples of some specific feedback:

  • Provide training for screening providers to enable them to support people with additional needs during their appointment.
  • Address gaps and training needs with different audiences and provide clarity on what screening is.
  • Query regarding how to reach individuals that are not engaged with a group/community but have additional needs.
  • Ensure our campaigns/communications are evidence-based and reachable by all.
  • Be more visual and use different channels (social media, multiple languages, etc.).

Next steps

The Strategic Framework document will be drafted. It will reflect the priority areas and commitments co-produced over the past 6 months. The Framework is due to be published summer 2023. We will then start working on the development of action plans to ensure that the Framework is implemented.