April 13, 2024

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AAA screening: programme specific operating model

This document describes the programme specific operating model (PSOM) for quality assurance (QA) of the NHS abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening programme.

You should read it in conjunction with the Screening quality assurance service: operating model and the relevant screening quality assurance service (SQAS) generic standard operating procedures.

This PSOM was developed by a working group led by the PHE national portfolio lead (NPL) for AAA screening, along with members of the regional SQAS teams, the PHE Screening national programme manager and, where applicable, colleagues from NHS England and Improvement.

The PSOM describes how SQAS works with, supports and quality assures AAA screening services.

SQAS works to implement the PHE screening inequalities strategy by:

  • checking that the delivery of the NHS AAA screening programme contributes to reducing health inequalities
  • making sure SQAS processes support the identification of inequalities in the screening pathway to enable screening providers and commissioners to address the issues raised

1. Background

QA consists of:

  • an assurance process to measure the quality of screening services against a set of agreed screening standards, national service specifications and national programme guidance
  • activities to support screening services with quality improvement

To help assure and improve the quality of screening services, SQAS uses:

  • peer review QA visits carried out every 3 to 5 years
  • review of data (for example monthly, quarterly and annual reports)
  • network and educational meetings
  • targeted support to providers

In addition, SQAS provides:

  • advice and support for investigations into screening safety incidents and serious incidents
  • expert advice and support at screening service steering group or programme board meetings

The processes and documentation to support QA activity were approved by the SQAS quality assurance executive group, the screening data group and the screening division strategy management group.

1.1 Purpose and scope

The operating model outlines the agreed QA process for the NHS AAA screening programme. SQAS staff and any professional clinical advisors (PCAs) supporting the SQAS team must follow the PSOM to make sure the approach to QA is consistent across all local screening services.

The NHS AAA screening programme aims to reduce premature deaths from ruptured AAAs among men aged 65 and over by up to 50% through early detection, appropriate follow-on tests and treatment.

AAA screening national guidance on GOV.UK covers:

1.2 The quality assurance process

The quality assurance process details:

  • the section of the screening pathway to be looked at
  • SQAS staff and PCA roles
  • the evidence required
  • data and information sources used
  • the frequency of QA activities
  • how QA activity maps to screening standards, key performance indicators (KPIs) and service specifications

2. Overview of quality assurance activities

2.1 Service engagement

A named senior quality assurance advisor (SQAA) or quality assurance advisor (QAA) will be linked to each screening service and the NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) public health commissioning team (PHCT).

Throughout the remainder of the document the named SQAS visit lead will be referred to as S/QAA.

The S/QAA or deputy will attend screening service steering or programme boards to:

  • identify and monitor screening issues
  • support the identification of risks and potential incidents
  • monitor progress against QA recommendations
  • support service improvement, including work to reduce screening inequalities
  • update screening services on changes in national policy
  • share learning

2.2 Analysis of data and intelligence

PHE Screening and SQAS will collect and review data in specified time periods. See data and intelligence from quality assurance.

Services are benchmarked using national screening standards.

Annually, SQAS together with the national NHS AAA screening programme team and PCAs (where applicable) review data and intelligence at a national, regional or sub-regional level. This data and intelligence is used to prioritise SQAS activities.

Further information and intelligence may be obtained from attendance at screening service steering or programme boards and by other means, including regular PHE screening reports, published studies, discussions with screening services and national screening programmes.

2.3 Visits and reviews

The QA visit process includes all screening services delivering the full screening pathway or part of it. This includes private providers commissioned to deliver NHS screening programmes.

The frequency of QA visits and other QA activity is based on findings from the annual prioritisation exercise. The maximum interval for a full visit for all screening services is 5 years.

SQAS may undertake a visit or assessment within the 5-year period if needed. Changes in service provision via re-procurement or reconfiguration will be considered as part of the annual prioritisation exercise with the flexibility for in-year adjustment if required.

The QA visit and review of screening services will include:

  • programme management and governance
  • the screening pathway
  • referral to relevant diagnostic or treatment services
  • public health system leadership and commissioning

NHSEI and screening services are informed of scheduled visits/targeted interventions to give adequate preparation time.

Following a QA visit or targeted intervention, SQAS produces a report and sends it to the screening service and commissioner(s). Where recommendations are made the screening service should develop an action plan with the commissioner.

The QA report executive summary is published on GOV.UK unless consent is withdrawn by either the screening service or commissioners.

The QA visit process is described in detail in the QA visit preparation section.

2.4 Support with screening safety incidents and serious incidents

The role of SQAS in screening safety incidents is set out in PHE’s guidance Managing safety incidents in NHS screening programmes. The role includes:

  • developing guidance and processes for managing and monitoring screening safety incidents and serious incidents
  • developing resources and training packages to support the management of screening incidents
  • collating and disseminating learning from incidents at national, regional and local level

SQAS supports patient safety by:

  • providing expert advice to screening services and public health commissioning teams so that safety concerns, safety incidents and serious incidents are assessed, investigated and managed effectively
  • accessing specialist clinical and policy advice for specific incidents from PHE Screening’s national programme team and from PCAs who work with regionally based SQAS teams
  • working with the Public Health Commissioning and Operations team in NHSEI on incidents that require a national response

2.5 Networking and support

A variety of approaches to networking are used across SQAS. Feedback from attendees shows these events are valued by both SQAS and screening service representatives.

SQAS uses network meetings to share information relating to screening standards, guidance and national programme developments. The meetings provide an opportunity to share data, discuss support needs, and enable feedback. They help identify quality issues and potential risks that could inform future QA activity.

Meetings allow staff working in screening services to develop networks and share tasks such as development of protocols.

Meetings may have input from external speakers or include sharing of audit information. SQAS and the national screening programme manager work together where applicable to develop a joint agenda for these meetings.

The frequency of meetings will vary by professional group. There will be a minimum of 3 per year nationally. They will involve different staff groups depending on prioritisation and current issues. This is likely to include some or all of:

  • network meeting held annually
  • directors meeting held annually
  • clinical skills trainers event held annually
  • vascular nurses event held annually
  • research event held annually

3. Data and intelligence for quality assurance

3.1 Data sources

Screening management and referral tracking

There is one information technology (IT) system for AAA screening, the Screening management and referral tracker (SMaRT) system that is used by all screening services. SMaRT is used to collect and manage the operational data. A business analytics tool (Business Objects) is used to provide a snapshot of the underlying database which is used to generate automated reports run monthly and quarterly. The snapshot does not contain any patient identifiable information.

KPIs

Screening key performance indicators (KPIs) define consistent performance measures for a selection of public health priorities, using terminology that is clear and common across all NHS screening programmes, so performance can be understood, assessed and compared. They are a subset of screening standards and relate to a limited range of screening priorities that are not in themselves sufficient to quality assure or performance manage screening services. The KPIs reflect areas where consistency and an understanding of variation across England are important.

KPIs are collated and reported quarterly, unless numbers are small, in which case aggregated data is reported in the public domain annually. Small number KPIs are available for PHE Screening staff for QA purposes. These KPIs are contained within the Section 7a agreements between the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHSEI and in the public health outcomes framework (PHOF).

Screening pathway reporting

PHE Screening is committed to publishing data required to support the QA of screening standards. Standards are reported annually unless they are also KPIs, in which case they are usually reported on quarterly and annual figures are aggregated. PHE screening co-ordinates an annual collection and analysis of standards data. The submitting organisation is responsible for timely submission of data and making sure only accurate data is submitted. Good quality data is important for monitoring and improving screening services. Screening providers may want to refer to the guidance for providers on the false or misleading information (FOMI) offence, which sets out the responsibility of providers to supply and publish accurate data.

Screening services can access a variety of reports. Reports are automatically generated in Business Objects and then made available within SMaRT in Microsoft Excel format.

Screening services can only see their own data and a summary of the national data. Reports are produced on the first Tuesday after the reporting period has ended.

The national screening programmes team provides pathway standards and waiting times trackers quarterly, along with a summary file showing trend data to SQAS. The pathway standards are also published annually on GOV.UK with uptake by local authority included in the Public Health Outcomes Framework tool.

The current list of outline reports and frequency are.

  • screener test, monthly
  • clinic and appointments, monthly
  • pathway standards, quarterly
  • waiting time tracker, quarterly
  • pathway standards, annually

3.2 Data analysis

SQAS will comply with the set national screening methodologies as these are developed.

Data quality and completeness of data is reviewed using national guidance and other data validation operating procedures (manual and/or automatic).

Data analysis is undertaken by national or regional data analysts and the national data and information team in the case of KPIs and screening standards as required.

All data is extracted from SMaRT. The pathway standards use percentages. Where incidence rates of aneurysms are presented the rates are per 100,000 men.

3.3 Data reporting

Reporting and analysis is done once, nationally where possible. Dissemination of data not already in the public domain to screening services is via the PHE national NHS AAA Screening Programme team. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is now in place with NHSEI to include the national programme team on the NHSEI dashboard.

3.4 Data sharing

Routine data sharing between PHE screening and NHSEI for all 11 national NHS screening programmes is underpinned by the MoU signed by both organisations. This MoU extends to any onward sharing to any third party, for example PHE centre directors, providers of screening services, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), voluntary organisations and other health professionals using screening data to improve and monitor services. This is for the purpose of improving the quality of screening services. The set of data items covered by the MoU is shared before publication and for management purposes only. Data flows, schedules and the list of data items shared are managed by the national data and information team. All data shared under the MoU is also available to PHE screening staff.

Non routine data requests from commissioners and service providers should be discussed with SQAS regional teams and/or research advisory committees (RACs) that will consider requests in line with data release principles including, but not limited to, the following questions:

  1. Has the data already been shared via the MoU or is it available in the public domain?
  2. Is the data likely to support population health improvement?
  3. Is the data likely to improve the quality of screening services?
  4. What is the level of anonymisation required (ranging from open government licence to potentially identifiable and identifiable information)?
  5. What resources and costs are required to extract, collate, quality assure and release the data set?

SQAS regional teams will, if necessary, involve national programme managers and the national data and information team in the initial discussion of non-routine data requests and seek advice from RACs where appropriate. All requests for data not aggregated to the information standards board (ISB) anonymisation standard is discussed with the PHE Office for Data Release.

The RAC application process and a detailed flowchart is available.

All data requests and releases will be centrally logged and tracked.

3.5 Information governance

PHE acts as the sole or joint data controller for certain data. This includes data within national information communication technology (ICT) systems which is used to deliver the call and recall part of the screening pathway. It also includes data that is processed to assure the quality, safety and efficacy of screening. These systems are usually ones that PHE has directly commissioned or has a role in establishing.

PHE has a responsibility to ensure any data it controls is processed in line with the relevant legal and ethical requirements. Because PHE process personal confidential data without gaining prior consent from patients, it requires permission to set aside the legal duty of confidence (this is the obligation that medical services have to keep information they hold on patients secure and confidential and not share it with third parties, such as PHE).

The legal authority to set aside the duty of confidence comes from approval by the Health Research Authority’s Confidentiality Advisory Group (HRA CAG). This is commonly referred to as Section 251 (S251) support. PHE has approval to process confidential data for a specific set of circumstances required to deliver safe, effective screening. Specifically, PHE has Section 251 support to discharge its duty to oversee the delivery of screening, its quality assurance and its evaluation.

PHE does not have S251 support to undertake research. Researchers cannot claim PHE’s S251 support as their own without an explicit data processing agreement between PHE and the processor and a letter of amendment from the HRA CAG.

4.
QA visit preparation

4.1 Objectives

The objectives of the QA visit are to:

  • examine the performance of the screening service
  • confirm if national screening standards are met
  • identify variance from screening standards
  • support professionals working in the screening service to maintain and improve performance against screening standards
  • identify areas for shared learning and disseminate these to all screening services
  • share experiences and understanding of current problems or concerns in NHS AAA screening services and contribute to national development

4.2 The QA visit team

The QA visit team is selected by SQAS, led by the visit chair and supported by the:

  • SQAA
    and/or
  • QAA/quality assurance facilitator (QAF)

Members of the team may include:

  • clinical lead/director or vascular lead or interventional radiologist (usually also the QA visit chair)
  • public health and commissioning
  • programme management
  • ultrasound clinical lead or vascular scientist or clinical skills trainer

QA visit team members are asked to declare conflicts of interest before the visit. If this raises concerns about the use of a PCA for a visit, SQAS will take advice within PHE.

A maximum of 2 observers may be present at a QA visit, for training and education purposes. The observers are not involved with providing feedback and will not input into the interviews or decision-making processes.

4.3 Role of the QA visit chair and QA advisor

For AAA screening, the visit chair is the regional portfolio lead (RPL) or a PCA who has received specific training to perform this role. If the visit chair is also a PCA they are not expected to act in their usual PCA role during the QA visit unless agreed in advance.

The visit chair is responsible for:

  • chairing and directing the conduct of the QA visit
  • providing considered, consistent feedback on the QA visit findings
  • managing sensitively and appropriately any serious issues or concerns raised before or on the day of the QA visit
  • facilitating the exchange of knowledge and ideas and encouraging productive networking

The S/QAA supporting the visit chair is responsible for adequate preparation before the QA visit including:

  • notification of the visit date to the provider organisation chief executive (CE) and commissioner 6 months before the visit
  • making sure the screening service knows what to prepare for the QA visit
  • arranging any preliminary meetings between SQAS and the screening service
  • acting as a point of contact for any queries relating to organising and co-ordinating the QA visit
  • identifying and managing the QA visit team which is accountable to the QA visit chair up to and including production of the final report and executive summary
  • making sure PCAs are contracted appropriately and agreements are signed before undertaking QA activity
  • making sure all PCAs selected have completed the required training
  • making sure the evidence to support the QA visit is submitted via the screening division IT system known as Marvin and any observational pre-visits are completed
  • identifying late submission or missing evidence and escalating as appropriate
  • reviewing the evidence submitted and identifying areas for discussion
  • developing agendas for the pre-meeting, QA visit and feedback sessions
  • making sure adequate preparatory work is complete
  • supporting the visit chair to collate feedback during the QA visit

The S/QAA is responsible for the following after the QA visit:

  • making sure PCAs provide feedback in a timely manner to allow drafting of the factual accuracy report within the agreed timescales
  • making sure an accurate final report of the QA visit is issued within the agreed timescale and sent to provider CE(s) and NHSEI screening and immunisation leads (SILs)
  • making sure recommendations are followed up and monitored within the agreed timescale and escalated where progress is not made
  • making sure the executive summary is uploaded to GOV.UK in accordance with SQAS guidance

4.4 Skills and experience of QA visit team

Members of the QA visit team need skills in:

  • report writing
  • interview techniques
  • an understanding of screening incident identification and management
  • analytical skills

They should also:

  • have programme specific QA training
  • understand public health aspects of screening
  • have the opportunity to observe a QA visit

Specialist skills required of the individual PCAs are documented in the AAA screening PCA person specification/role description.

4.5 Locations to be visited

The QA visit will assess the screening service and screening pathway(s). If a service has sites located away from the main provider unit it may not be possible to visit all screening sites on the same day. Where needed, the S/QAA will arrange visits to other sites before the main provider unit QA visit takes place.

4.6 Screening service personnel

Depending on service configuration the QA visit should be attended by:

  • programme clinical lead/director
  • programme manager/co-ordinator
  • clinical skills trainer/provider QA
  • screening technicians
  • administration staff, including failsafe officers
  • vascular specialist nurse
  • lead vascular surgeon from each vascular network centre
  • senior representative from NHSEI PHCT

4.7 Evidence considered at QA visits

The QA team review:

  • pre-visit questionnaires completed by the screening service (where applicable)
  • commissioning
  • supporting evidence and documents submitted to SQAS
  • interviews undertaken during the QA visit
  • observational visits (where applicable)
  • case reviews (where applicable)
  • analysis of annual report data and routine data for the preceding 12-month period
  • quarterly programme standards, PSOM metrics and KPI data following preceding annual report
  • analysis of audit reports
  • programme specific inequalities evidence guide to identify inequalities in the screening pathway

4.8 Preparation for a QA visit

SQAS will agree the QA visit date with the screening service and commissioners. At least 6 months notice is given. The screening service should identify a contact person to co-ordinate arrangements. They are responsible for evidence submission, booking meeting rooms for interviews on the day and providing relevant contact details.

The date of the QA visit will not be changed once it is agreed, except in exceptional circumstances, and only with the agreement of both parties.

SQAS informs the CE(s) of the host trust, stakeholder trusts, providers of any associated services, treatment providers and commissioners of the QA visit. They are required to attend or send a suitable representative to the QA visit feedback session and subsequent discussions as appropriate.

4.9 Preliminary meeting

A preliminary meeting between SQAS and the screening service or commissioners may take place. This will vary by programme, for example, SQAS may attend the next scheduled screening service steering or programme board meeting or operational group meeting once the QA visit date is agreed.

If no meeting is scheduled before the QA visit SQAS may request a bespoke meeting around 3 months before the QA visit date.

SQAS will use the meeting to inform the screening service about arrangements for the QA visit. This includes arrangements for any observational visits, an outline of the agenda and answering any questions that the screening service and its stakeholders may have.

4.10 Information to be provided

In preparation for a QA visit, the screening service is asked to provide:

  • action plans from previous QA recommendations (where not already available to SQAS)
  • action plans from pre-visit questionnaire or desk top review (where applicable)
  • completed pre-visit questionnaire (where applicable)
  • supporting documents and protocols as outlined in the pre-visit questionnaire or documentation
  • performance reports as requested
  • information on any incidents that have occurred in the last 12 to 24 months
  • information on venue organisation, the location of the QA visit including rooms for interviews and feedback sessions
  • other relevant information requested by SQAS

This information should be provided to SQAS at least 10 weeks before the QA visit date. There is no flexibility to extend the deadline for evidence submission unless it is agreed by the S/QAA, RPL and visit chair.

Evidence should be submitted via the screening division’s Marvin IT system. SQAS will provide details of how to upload evidence.

Evidence transfer must conform to information governance rules. No patient identifiable or sensitive information should be transferred to SQAS. SQAS information governance protocols should be followed.

Evidence submitted that is out of date, for example policies or guidelines, is not assessed, but is used to inform decisions about screening service governance.

Where needed, the S/QAA leading the QA visit will request clarification of evidence submitted or for further evidence to be provided.

4.11 Review of evidence to inform the QA visit

The evidence is reviewed by the visit chair, lead S/QAA and PCAs

The lead S/QAA completes the context grid (summary document) and reviews the evidence with the visit chair to determine initial key lines of enquiry (KLOE). The final KLOE are agreed with the PCAs following the evidence review meeting. The visit chair and S/QAA will decide which PCAs are required for the QA visit.

4.12 Standing down of PCAs

The desktop review process may result in a targeted QA visit which will aim to address the KLOEs identified by the QA visit team. Depending on the strength of the evidence provided, it may not be essential for all members of the QA review team to attend and undertake interviews on the day of the visit.

PCAs are given at least 6 weeks notice if they are not needed to attend the QA visit. PCAs may perform a number of tasks, including scrutiny of evidence, development of KLOEs and telephone interviews.

The minimum visit team consists of the visit chair and S/QAA who will meet with the provider executive director responsible for screening, programme clinical lead, programme manager and lead commissioner. A full QA visit will take place where necessary. The lead S/QAA informs PCAs of any required actions.

4.13 Information for the QA visit team

The information pack includes:

  • contact details of visiting PCAs
  • list of screening service personnel
  • agenda for the QA visit day (including details of venue and rooms booked)
  • overview of the screening service (context grid where applicable)
  • copy of last QA visit report and progress against action plan (where applicable)
  • all documents submitted by the screening service
  • data relating to performance of the screening service

The information pack is available at least 2 weeks before the QA visit.

4.14 Briefing for visit chair, PCAs and S/QAA

The QA visit team meets either before or on the day of the QA visit and will:

  • introduce the members of the QA visit team
  • give PCAs an accurate overview of the main elements of the screening service
  • initiate discussions and highlight potential areas of concern
  • triangulate initial findings from pre-visit evidence review such as KLOEs generated by the PCAs and SQAS
  • make sure the visiting QA team are aware of their roles and responsibilities

5.
QA visit day

5.1 Presentation from the screening service

The clinical lead or designated representative is asked to give a short 10 to 15 minute presentation which outlines the service, including:

  • changes since the last QA visit
  • activity
  • achievements
  • any challenges or particular issues

5.2 Individual interviews

Each PCA ideally meets their professional counterpart(s) in the screening service. The PCA uses the interview to help determine whether national screening standards are met. They may also assess the relationships within the screening service.

The PCA summarises the discussion, feeds back the main issues and checks for mutual understanding at the end of the interview.

5.3 Preparation for the feedback session

The QA visit team meets to discuss and triangulate the findings from interviews. They focus on areas of risk, recommendations and shared learning. Findings are summarised and fed back to the screening service.

5.4 Feedback session

Feedback on the day may be given in 2 sessions.

The visit chair and S/QAA meet with the provider CE(s) and NHSEI PHCT representative, for example SIL, to give a verbal summary of risks, high level findings and recommendations. This session may be used to raise concerns regarding performance of an individual, or concerns for patient safety which would not be appropriate to raise in a wider audience.

This session usually, but not always, takes place before the main feedback session and is likely to last no longer than 15 minutes.

All interviewees are invited to the main feedback session where the visit chair gives a summary of the main findings and recommendations. All screening service staff and invited stakeholders are welcome to attend.

Senior management representatives of the provider trust/organisation(s), CE (s), CCG representatives (where applicable), NHSEI PHCT representatives and other stakeholders identified by the screening service are also invited to attend this session. Directors of public health (DoPH) or their nominated representative can be invited to attend by the PHCT.

The feedback session highlights:

  • areas for shared learning
  • risks
  • high level recommendations
  • the intention to publish the executive summary of the QA visit report on GOV.UK

This feedback session usually lasts no longer than 30 minutes.

Where immediate safety concerns are raised the S/QAA informs the RPL. Within 2 working days the RPL writes to the CE of the screening service and the lead commissioner outlining the main concerns and required actions. The letter is copied to the regional head of QA (RHQA) and to the national lead SQAS. The PHE screening division director and national programme manager may also be informed. The provider is asked to send a written response within 7 working days.

Where urgent recommendations are made, the RPL writes to the programme manager and commissioner within 2 working days outlining the main concerns and required actions. The provider is asked to send a written response within 14 working days with an action plan to resolve the urgent recommendation within 3 months or sooner.

6. Post QA visit

6.1 Feedback questionnaire

Screening services are asked to complete online feedback questionnaires to evaluate the QA visit process and provide feedback for SQAS to help improve processes.

6.2
QA visit report

The QA visit team submits a summary of its findings to the lead S/QAA within 1 week of the QA visit (or earlier as agreed). The lead S/QAA produces a draft report for factual accuracy checking by the screening service and commissioners within 30 working days of the QA visit. Day 1 is the first working day after the QA visit takes place.

The final report is completed within 10 weeks of the QA visit.

The QA visit report is completed using the agreed report template, written in plain English and conforming to the PHE style guide. It includes:

  • summary descriptions of screening service organisation and leadership arrangements
  • comments on the adequacy of resource, accommodation and equipment to meet national screening standards
  • areas of shared learning
  • variance from national screening standards
  • strengths and weaknesses within the screening service
  • recommendations to address issues identified and improve quality

6.3 Circulation of the final report

A copy of the report is sent to:

  • provider CE(s)
  • NHSEI, PHCT representative, for example SIL and the head of public health commissioning (HoPHC)

The report is sent via email and copied to the clinical lead and programme manager.

The CE and SIL are asked to share the report with relevant colleagues including those in the local health economy and public health centres who have a responsibility for screening services. Details of where the executive summary will be published is shared.

Unless consent is withdrawn, the executive summary of the QA visit report is published on the GOV.UK website 8 weeks after the final report is issued (18 weeks after the QA visit).

Where consent is not given SQAS will publish an acknowledgement that a QA visit took place to the named provider but consent to publish the executive summary was declined. A similar note is placed on GOV.UK if NHSEI commissioners decline publication.

The full report can be requested by a member of the public using a Freedom of Information request and may be released by PHE if requested.

6.4 The action plan

SQAS supports the screening service and commissioner through the action planning process.

SQAS specifies the evidence used to check whether screening services have met nationally agreed screening standards and any statutory or national guidance or guidelines that apply at the time of the visit.

Recommendations are written so that action plans can be developed. They include the evidence needed to show the action is complete and the criteria for closure.

Timescales for recommendations should be specific, with clear completion dates.

It is the responsibility of the NHSEI PHCT SIL (the commissioner) to make sure the recommendations made in the QA visit report are implemented. It is the responsibility of the screening service to develop an action plan to address the recommendations made.

The action plan is agreed with the SIL or HoPHC within 4 weeks of receipt of the final report. It is good practice for this to be submitted to the next screening service programme board or equivalent governance structure within 3 months of the QA visit.

The SIL makes sure progress against the action plan is maintained using relevant commissioner oversight mechanisms and levers. SQAS should be kept informed via screening service programme boards and direct contact with the providers and commissioners.

SQAS works with commissioners to monitor activity and progress in response to the recommendations for 12 months from receipt of the final report. This enables enough time for at least one response to all recommendations. SQAS sends a letter to the provider CE and commissioners summarising progress made and asking for their direct intervention to address any remaining issues.

6.5 Escalation process

SQAS escalates if progress against recommendations is not made. Initially this is through the screening service programme boards or equivalent governance structure and NHSEI PHCT, including to the HoPHC where necessary.

7. Training and development

All staff taking part in QA activity have training related to the role. SQAS staff and PCAs should have the skills and knowledge needed to address inequalities. The training requirements for professional and clinical advisors are set out in the relevant role outlines which are available from SQAS.

7.1 Continuous improvement

SQAS is committed to improving processes and measuring the impact of QA. SQAS therefore requests feedback from screening services and commissioners on the QA process and QA visit. Feedback will be requested within 2 weeks via an online Select Survey questionnaire following the QA visit. Feedback received is shared in relevant forums, or individually where applicable, to improve the QA process.