National Screening Programmes at Alert Level 2

Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 10:35

BreastScreen Aotearoa and the National Cervical Screening Programmes are gradually resuming but with important safeguards and infection control measures in place to ensure the ongoing safety of all participants and staff.

Bowel screening is restarting in a more phased way, as hospital services return to normal. People who received a home test kit in the mail before lockdown, and were advised to put it aside, can now complete it and send it back.

Antenatal and new-born screening programmes are continuing with some changes to ensure health staff, women and babies are kept safe.  More information about each programme is provided here:

Breast Screening at Alert Level 2

  • Breast screening services are gradually resuming, with priority women and those who missed their appointment at Alert Level 4, the first to receive a screening appointment
  • Anyone with an existing medical condition is being assessed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Women waiting for assessment are now being offered appointments and providers will be prioritising new assessments according to urgency and capacity.

Cervical Screening at Alert Level 2

  • Routine cervical screening is now underway, with priority given to annual surveillance rescreens, overdue screens, and priority populations
  • Women over 70, or who have existing medical conditions, will be assessed for re-screening on a case-by-case basis
  • Women needing further assessment will be referred to colposcopy. Health services will prioritise according to urgency and capacity to deliver assessment and treatment during Alert Level 2
  • Those with less urgent needs will start to be seen during this period, but with appointments being prioritised some delays may occur.

Bowel Screening at Alert Level 2

  • People who received a home test kit in the mail and were advised to hold off completing it under Alert Level 4, can now safely complete the test and send it back.
  • People assessed as needing urgent colonoscopies will continue to be prioritised, with screening colonoscopies now resuming
  • Anyone concerned about bowel symptoms should talk to their GP directly, and not wait for screening to re-start
  • There will be no new or 2-yearly recall invitations sent out to allow the National Bowel Screening Programme to catch up with participants already in the system.

Antenatal and new-born screening at Alert Level 2

  • All programmes will continue to operate, with changes to ensure safety of staff and mothers and babies
  • Newborn hearing screening provision will be extended to include screening in outpatient clinics for prioritised cases, in addition to hospital births where feasible
  • Diagnostic audiology will be provided for acute and prioritised cases only

Further information for health professionals about the change to the national screening programmes under Alert Level 2 is available on the NSU website.

Information for participants of the breast, bowel and cervical  screening programmes is available on the Time to Screen website.


Page last updated: 14 May 2020