The National Screening Unit (NSU) provides health screening programmes in New Zealand.
Screening services during Alert Levels
There are some changes to available health screening services offered during Alert Level changes. For details, visit the Time to Screen website.
Antenatal and newborn screening programmes are continuing during the health service response to COVID-19, but with some changes to ensure health staff, women and babies are kept safe. More information for pregnancy and newborn screening participants is available on the National Screening Unit website.
About the NSU and screening programmes
The NSU is responsible for the safety, effectiveness and quality of organised screening programmes. It is responsible for national coordination of the following screening programmes.
- National Bowel Screening Programme – screens people for bowel cancer
- BreastScreen Aotearoa – screens women for breast cancer
- National Cervical Screening Programme – screens women for abnormal changes to cells on the cervix
- Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme – screens newborn babies for certain metabolic disorders
- Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme – screens newborn babies for hearing loss
The NSU is also responsible for introducing the quality improvement measures for antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions.
The NSU monitors the quality of screening programmes, and works with expert groups to make sure each screening programme is based on the latest evidence and meets high standards. The NSU also advises the Government on other potential programmes.
Core functions of the National Screening Unit
- National coordination, leadership, and advice to government regarding screening
- Ensuring obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi are met
- Research and development including evaluation of new evidence related to screening and evidence-based appraisal of technological advances in screening
- Developing frameworks, policies and standards
- Monitoring performance and evaluating screening services
- Coordinating, leading and developing a screening workforce
- Administering legislation related to screening programmes
- Identifying under-screened groups and developing effective strategies to improve their participation