National Screening Advisory Committee has vital role

Members of the National Screening Advisory Committee.
Members of the National Screening Advisory Committee.
The National Screening Advisory Committee (NSAC) provides high level, strategic governance and leadership for national population-based health and disability screening programmes. NSAC was first established in 2004 following the National Health Committee’s identification of the need for a specific body to oversee and advise on screening programmes in New Zealand.

Its primary role is to provide advice on the case for new population screening programmes and major changes to current programmes.

NSAC reports to the Ministry of Health's Chief Medical Officer and the Director of National Services Purchasing. Other aspects of the Committee’s role are to:

  • make evidence-based recommendations about the case for implementing new population screening programmes, including consideration of their effectiveness, feasibility, likely harms and benefits, value for money and impact on the health system
  • identify screening technologies of proven effectiveness which require central agency-led and well-managed implementation as national screening or quality improvement programmes
  • advise whether to continue, modify or withdraw existing population screening programmes, particularly those programmes inadequately evaluated or of doubtful effectiveness, quality or value
  • consider and endorse major changes within current screening programmes as raised by National Screening Unit (NSU) advisory groups
  • consult and liaise with clinical leaders and experts on screening to obtain sound advice, referring appropriate issues for further research and commissioning evidence-based reviews as NSU resources allow
  • undertake a horizon-scanning function to provide guidance on emerging and future technologies suitable for population screening programmes.

The Committee is multidisciplinary, with members chosen for their linkages to other health or academic groups as well as their individual skills – for example, expertise in public health, screening programmes, epidemiology, ethics and health economics.

NSAC is currently chaired by Professor Ross Lawrenson, Head of Waikato Clinical School, and Professor of Primary Care, University of Auckland. NSU Clinical Director Dr Jane O'Hallahan is deputy chair.

More about NSAC, including its terms of reference, can be found here.

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Page last updated: 30 November 2015