The announcement by NHS England (NHSE) that Primary HPV testing within the NHS Cervical Screening Programme will be implemented fully across England by the end of December 2019, and that to support this, the agreement of a strategy to commission up to a maximum of 13 laboratory services, was made in late 2017
NHSE called a stakeholder meeting in early February that was attended by the BAC, IBMS and other stakeholders, where further information and detail on the timescales and processes for this was shared:
NHS England has established an internal HPV Procurement Board to oversee this work and workstreams covering elements such as IT systems, transport and logistics, laboratory footprints and finance are already in place.
During this whole process laboratories will need to deliver the Cervical Screening Programme to existing standards, and whilst existing mitigation plans may already have aided this to a degree, both the mitigation process and monitoring of laboratory performance remain under review.
NHSE acknowledged that laboratory staff will naturally have many concerns about their uncertain future during this implementation period. NHS England confirmed that national TUPE regulations will apply to any procurement undertaken to support the delivery of the HPV primary testing within the Cervical Screening Programme. Laboratory staff who may be affected by this process should seek advice from their internal HR departments and/or their unions as appropriate.
NHSE has also indicated their intention to provide reliable communications to professional groups, cancer charities, laboratories and local commissioners during this process. This will be primarily via the PHE screening blog and existing communication channels between local commissioners and providers. Face to face meetings between organisations may also take place at key stages in the process.
Both the IBMS and BAC have offered to provide advice and expertise to the procurement process where appropriate, with the aim of ensuring a well-managed, safe and robust implementation process for all involved including staff and service users.
Subsequent to the BAC/IBMS statement, PHE have published a new Blog on this: see via the link below.
We will do our best to answer any questions we can, or if not to send them onto NHSE on behalf of members.