On 13 May, NHS England/Public Health England wrote to inform GP’s of an incident in the Cervical Screening SMS Reminder Catch-Up project, in which 3,400 women were erroneously identified as being overdue for cervical screening and sent a text message advising them to book a screening appointment. The program was halted.
A multidisciplinary panel has now concluded an investigation into the root cause of this incident and determined that this occurred because of inconsistencies in the configuration of fields within NHAIS - the database that was used to identify women eligible for the SMS. NHS Digital and the North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) have rectified this issue and Panel is assured that the project can resume safely.
The Cervical Screening SMS Reminder Catch-Up project will operate from next week.
NHS England/Public Health England want to reassure all that SMS reminders remain one of the most effective methods of improving cervical screening uptake. Since 2018, NHSEI and Iplato, with the support of NECS, have safely sent over one million SMS reminders to women invited for cervical screening across London. Practices and sample takers can remain confident in the rigour of the operating processes and information governance of this programme.