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Meeting the challenge of bringing England’s cervical screening programme back within the NHS

In 2019 England’s CSUs were tasked with bringing the National Cervical Screening Programme back within the NHS in a matter of months. MLCSU’s Improvement Unit played a key role in the success of this initiative.


Primary Care Support England (PCSE), provided by Capita, supplied the administration support for the National Cervical Screening Programme on behalf of NHS England, sending invitations, reminder letters and test results to patients.

On March 20, 2019, NHS England (NHSE) Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens advised the Public Accounts Committee about failings with adult health screening programmes and confirmed that action was being taken to bring the service back to the NHS.


The Commissioning Support Units (CSUs) were requested to work collaboratively to provide an overview of the service, establishing a programme office to manage the transition and operation of the service back to the NHS by August 1, 2019.

Improvement Unit (IU) expertise was requested to support the immediate mobilisation and transition of the service. The Improvement Unit also provided operational oversight, leadership, management and improvement support.


  • The Cervical Screening Service was “in housed” within agreed timescales from Capita to NHS England by August 1, 2019.
  • This exemplar of collaborative working with experienced, skilled and dedicated expertise resulted in a successful transfer and continuity of service delivery.
  • Consistent leadership and operational management support in the absence of a Head of Service was given, providing stability and consistency.
  • A streamline case management system, including dashboard reporting functionality to support operational management, was created and implemented.
  • We supported in the redesign and implementation of a Complaints service.
  • A dedicated call handling service, improving customer experience and improved processing of operational queries and enquiries, was created and implemented.
  • We identified areas for improvement, prioritisation and development to improve and enhance service delivery.
    We provided responsive and inclusive communication and engagement, resulting in improved staff morale, staff and customer satisfaction.

The CSAS collaboration between NECS and M&LCSU is a wonderful example of collaboration at its best.

Stephen Childs, Managing Director, North East CSU