Overview

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak it is very important we maintain, as far as possible, our illness prevention and early intervention services.

Immunisations

To protect children and vulnerable groups, immunisation services throughout Scotland have continued.

How immunisations will continue during coronavirus

Screening

Those NHS Scotland national screening programmes which were paused in March because of coronavirus have now resumed.

This is being done safely, carefully and in a series of stages.

Screening programmes and followup appointments will continue, even when national and local restrictions are in place. This is because we’ve introduced measures to keep you and our staff safe.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

The abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening programme has resumed routine screening and is now inviting men to be screened.

More about the AAA screening resuming

Bowel screening

Bowel Screening kits are now being issued. Please be patient with us as we resume the service.

If you received a kit in the post before the programme was paused please complete and return it now.

Your NHS Board will be in touch if you are due to attend a colonoscopy appointment.

More about bowel screening during coronavirus

Breast screening

Breast screening has resumed and letters of invitation are being sent. There will be a delay as it will take some time to fully restore the service.

More about breast screening during coronavirus

Cervical screening

Cervical screening has resumed.

Regular cervical screening (routine screening) invitations and reminders are now being sent.

If you were invited for cervical screening before the pause, contact your GP practice to make an appointment. This applies to anyone who was yet to make an appointment or who had made an appointment which was then cancelled.

If you receive more frequent cervical screening due to a previous screening result and you were due to be invited during the pause you will receive your invitation or any reminders you were due by the end of September. If you don’t receive your invitation please contact your GP practice.

More about cervical screening during cornavirus

Diabetic retinopathy screening (DRS)

The diabetic retinopathy screening (DRS) programme has resumed routine screening and is inviting service users to be screened.

More about the DRS programme during coronavirus

Newborn and pregnancy screening

Pregnancy and newborn screening programmes have continued throughout the coronavirus outbreak. These are tests and scans offered during pregnancy and just after birth.

Be symptom aware

Between screening appointments or as you wait for your rescheduled screening appointment, be aware of any symptoms or signs of the conditions we screen for.

Our screening condition pages have symptom details. If you have any of the symptoms contact your GP practice.

Other languages and formats

This guidance is also available in the following languages and formats:

These translations will be updated soon to include information on the resumption of the screening programmes.

Immunisation

Immunisation appointments will continue during the coronavirus outbreak, in order to protect children and other vulnerable groups against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Immunisations for children aged up to 5 years

Parents/carers will continue to receive immunisation appointment letters during this time.

Please attend your child’s immunisation appointment to protect them against serious diseases.

Immunisations are one of the important medical reasons for leaving your home.

If you think you or your child are showing symptoms of coronavirus, phone the number on your invitation to rearrange your appointment.

Immunisations for young people at secondary school

Immunisations for young people at secondary school (including the HPV vaccine and Td/IPV vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and polio) will be scheduled for this academic year.

Young people will receive a consent pack (letter, leaflet and consent form) at school in advance of their immunisation date.

Schools will confirm the immunisation session dates with young people and their parents/ carers once available.

Immunisations for pregnant women

Pregnant women are strongly advised to attend their appointment to receive their whooping cough vaccine (from week 16 of their pregnancy) to protect themselves and their baby against whooping cough.

Immunisations are one of the important medical reasons for leaving your home.

If you are showing symptoms of coronavirus, please contact your health professional to discuss rescheduling your vaccination appointment.

Shingles immunisations for adults aged 70-79 years

Routine shingles vaccination appointments were temporarily suspended in April 2020. They have now restarted from 1st September 2020.

If you were aged 70-79 years on 1st September 2020 you are eligible for the shingles vaccine.

If you need to attend your health professional for another medical reason, you can ask them if it's possible to get your shingles vaccine while there.

Pneumococcal immunisations for those in risk groups aged 2 - 64 years and those aged 65 years and over

Pneumococcal vaccination will continue.

Those aged 70 years and older can have the pneumococcal vaccine if presenting for another scheduled appointment.

Immunisations are one of the important medical reasons for leaving your home.

If you are showing symptoms of coronavirus, please contact your health professional to discuss rescheduling your vaccination appointment.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening resumes

The abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening programme has resumed routine screening and is now inviting men to be screened.

Screening will continue even when national or local restrictions are in place.

Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel, so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

AAA screening is the best way of finding out if you are at risk of having an aorta rupturing.

Who will be offered screening

AAA screening is for all men aged 65 and over.

Your AAA appointment

Coronavirus symptoms, self-isolating and shielding

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, or have been in contact with someone who does, you should not go to your AAA screening appointment.

Contact your screening centre and let them know you have coronavirus symptoms. They can rearrange your appointment for after your isolation period.

If you're shielding, you may want to discuss the risk of contracting coronavirus with the healthcare professional who helps you manage any conditions.

Shielding information may change, so check the most up-to-date advice on shielding.

Screening invitation

When you get your invitation, read the information carefully.

If you're unsure, look for further information or talk to a local health professional to help you decide.

If you decide you don't want to attend, please contact your local screening centre to inform them of this.

If you decide to take up the invitation, you will need to contact your local screening centre as soon as possible if you:

  • want to have someone else with you during the scan
  • have a disability
  • need an interpreter or any other help.

You may be phoned 48 hours before your appointment to discuss coronavirus symptoms and the arrangements for your appointment.

Attending your appointment

You may be asked to wear a face covering during your appointment, in line with national guidance. You may also be asked to use hand sanitiser before coming into the building.

Staff may also be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gloves, aprons, face visors or eye protection. Your screening appointment may take longer to allow the new safety measures to be followed.

Please go to your appointment alone unless you need help from a carer or family member. Anyone not attending an appointment will be asked to wait outside.

We’re trying to limit the number of people within the building and waiting room areas.

Arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. Waiting room space is limited to allow for distancing.

Screening results

You should get your result within 2 weeks after your appointment. If you don't, you can phone your screening centre to ask when they might arrive.

Common questions

My invite was due during the pause. When will I receive it?

We will send out invites that were due to be issued during the pause as soon as we can. We will prioritise invitations based on clinical need and are unable to give specific timeframes yet.

Can I make an appointment now?

No. Appointment invitations and reminders will be issued according to clinical priority.

Annual and routine screening of men will resume once NHS Scotland has caught up with the high priority appointments affected by the pause.

I am almost 65 years old. When will I be invited for my AAA screening?

We are unable to give specific timeframes yet. Routine screening will resume as soon as NHS Scotland has caught up with the backlog of appointments for those people in greatest need.

You'll be sent an invitation as soon as possible after these high priority service users have been seen.

Is it safe to go to my AAA screening appointment at the moment?

We’ll continue to take our normal safety measures and will also be following any new guidelines in line with the latest clinical guidance.

You can help keep the risk low by following any instructions given to you when you arrive, as well as general guidance for keeping yourself safe.

Find out more about keeping yourself safe.

I have a cough and/or other signs of coronavirus, what should I do?

If you have any signs of coronavirus (cough, fever or a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste), please do not go to your appointment.

Phone the number on your invitation letter to change the day of your appointment.

If you think you have coronavirus and would like to check your symptoms, phone 0800 028 2816. Find out more about the symptoms of coronavirus.

I’ve been asked to shield, should I still go to my appointment?

Shielding information may change. See the most up-to-date advice on shielding.

Will my AAA screening appointment be the same as before coronavirus?

Your experience may be slightly different from usual because the local programmes will have additional safety measures in place.

You may be asked to arrive as close to the appointment time as possible and your screener may be wearing PPE.

The ultrasound scan itself, where your screener moves a small scanner over your skin and take measurements of your aorta from an image on a screen, will be exactly the same and should only take a couple of minutes.

Do I need to wear a mask or gloves to my appointment?

You may be asked to wear a face covering during your appointment, in line with national guidance.

A face covering is a piece of cloth that covers your nose and mouth to protect the people around you from coronavirus.

It is important to wash your face covering once you are back home.

Current evidence does not suggest wearing gloves is helpful for the general public.

It is better to wash your hands well and often. You may want to take a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol to your appointment.

What should I do when I arrive at my appointment?

A few days before your appointment, your local screening centre will give you specific instructions about what to do once you arrive.

Some NHS premises are not using waiting rooms at the moment so you may be asked to wait outside the building, sometimes at a specific door and always keeping distance from other people.

If you're asked to do this, your screener will come and collect you for your appointment.

If you are invited to wait inside, your screener will follow government guidance and make sure everyone is spaced apart from each other at an appropriate distance.

How long will my AAA scan take?

Some local programmes are giving longer appointment slots of about 30 minutes. This includes time spent waiting for your appointment and being shown to the examination room.

This allows for additional safety measures to be followed and ensure there aren’t too many people coming in and out of the building at one time. However, the test itself should only take a few minutes.

You will still have time to ask any questions you might have before and after your appointment – your screener is there to support you if you have any concerns.

Should I put off attending my AAA screening appointment until the coronavirus outbreak is over?

We do not know how long you might need to wait if you put off your AAA screening appointment as we don’t know when the coronavirus outbreak will end or when the government guidance will change.

You will need to consider this potential delay and your personal situation when making your decision.

Talk with your screening centre about the safety measures they have in place, and any other concerns you might have.

I’m worried about going to my AAA screening appointment and possibly bringing coronavirus back to my loved ones. What should I do?

Your local screening programme will have safety measures in place to make this risk as low as possible.

You can help keep the risk low by following any instructions given to you when you arrive, as well as general guidance for keeping yourself safe.

Find out more about keeping yourself safe.

Is it possible to get coronavirus through AAA screening?

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, which means it affects the lungs and airways.

It is most commonly spread by droplets from the mouth or nose, when someone coughs or sneezes.

AAA screening is not considered high risk for passing on or getting coronavirus. Your screener should be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to make sure the risk is as low as possible.

I’m self-isolating right now. Should I go to my appointment?

You should not go to your appointment if you’re self-isolating. Phone the number on your invitation letter to change the day of your appointment.

Should I attend my appointment if there are coronavirus restrictions in my local area, or across Scotland?

It’s safe to attend your screening appointment, even if there are coronavirus restrictions in your local area or across Scotland. We have put measures in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

Further information

Public Health Scotland has produced a leaflet explaining the changes you can expect when attending AAA screening in Scotland during coronavirus.

This leaflet is also available in other languages and in Easy Read format.​

AAA screening appointments during coronavirus leaflet

AAA leaflet in audio format

AAA leaflet in BSL

Bowel screening resumes

Bowel Screening kits are now being issued.

If you received a kit in the post before the programme was paused please complete and return it now.

How to use the bowel screening test kit

Your NHS Board will be in touch if you are due to attend a colonoscopy appointment.

Colonoscopies will continue even when national or local restrictions are in place. Travelling to a colonoscopy appointment is classed as essential travel, so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

If you have any questions the Bowel Screening Helpline will be happy to answer them. Call them on 0800 0121 833.

If you notice anything unusual such as blood in your poo, a change in bowel habits or abdominal (tummy) pain, contact your GP practice.

Signs and symptoms of bowel cancer

Common questions

What should I do if I have a kit at home that I’ve not completed?

If you have a bowel screening test kit which you haven’t used, please do the test and send it to us now.

I've lost the kit I was sent, what do I do?

You can request another kit or call the Bowel Screening Centre on 0800 0121 833.

I was expecting to receive my kit during the time of the pause but haven’t received it yet?

Kits are now being sent out please be patient whilst we resume the service.

I’ve just turned 50 and was expecting to receive my invitation but haven’t received it?

Please be assured that you’ll receive your kit. Kits are now being sent out. Please be patient while we resume the service.

What happens if the results of my test show I need further investigation?

If the amount of blood found in your poo sample is above the normal screening limit, a colonoscopy is required.   This is to find out the cause of bleeding.

I need a colonoscopy. Does this mean I have cancer?

We know a delay to your colonoscopy may cause you considerable anxiety.  Please remember that:

  • it’s very unlikely that you have bowel cancer at the moment. Only about 5% of people requiring a colonoscopy have bowel cancer, and in those that do it is usually at a very early stage
  •  it’s much more likely that you have a polyp. This is a small growth which is quite harmless in itself, but may develop into cancer in the future if left untreated.  It’s therefore very important to remove polyps
  •  it’s highly unlikely that the delay in your colonoscopy will cause any harm.
When will I get my colonoscopy?

We’ll ensure that you have your colonoscopy as soon as possible. You’ll receive a letter inviting you for this. 

Should I attend my colonoscopy appointment if there are coronavirus restrictions in my local area or across Scotland?

It’s safe to attend your colonoscopy appointment, even if there are coronavirus restrictions in your local area or across Scotland.

We have put measures in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel, so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

Further information

Public Health Scotland has produced a leaflet explaining the changes you can expect to your colonoscopy appointment in Scotland during coronavirus.

This leaflet is also available in other languages and in Easy Read format.​

Colonoscopy appointments during coronavirus leaflet

Colonoscopy leaflet in audio format

 

Colonoscopy leaflet in BSL

Breast screening resumes

The breast screening programme has resumed routine screening and is now inviting women to be screened.

Screening will continue even when national or local restrictions are in place. Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel, so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

Who will be offered screening

Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 -70.

Anyone who was due their last screening invite during the pause will get one, regardless of age.

Your breast screening appointment

Coronavirus symptoms, self-isolating and shielding

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, or have been in contact with someone who does, you should not go to your breast screening appointment.

Contact your screening centre and let them know you have coronavirus symptoms. They can rearrange your appointment for after your isolation period.

If you're shielding, you may want to discuss the risk of contracting coronavirus with the healthcare professional who helps you manage any conditions.

Shielding information may change, so check the most up-to-date advice on shielding.

Making or changing an appointment

Your breast screening invitation will provide details of how to make or change your appointment.

Contact your screening centre if you are unable to attend.

Attending your appointment

It's your choice whether to attend for breast screening. If you are able to attend it is important to do so. Screening can find early signs of cancer and allows us to provide referral and treatment if necessary.

Additional infection control measures have been put in place for your screening. We ask that you don’t take anyone, including children, to your appointment to limit the number of people and keep you and staff as safe and well as possible.

Breast cancer symptoms

Phone your GP practice if you notice any changes in your breasts (including the area up to your armpit). These may be harmless, but you should get them checked straight away.

Other signs and symptoms of breast cancer

Common questions

My invitation is overdue, when will i receive it?

If you were due an invitation while the breast screening programme was paused you will still receive this, regardless of age.

Please be patient as invitations will be delayed.

Can I make an appointment now?

You will still receive an invitation and we will contact you when your screening appointment is due. Please be patient as appointment invitations will be delayed for some time as a result of the pause.

If you have already received your invitation, this will contain details of your appointment. Contact the screening centre if this is not suitable or you do not want to attend your appointment.

As phone lines will be busy, email your local screening centre should you have any general enquiries.

I am 53 and have not yet been invited for screening?

Your invitation has been prioritised and you should receive a letter asking you to contact your local screening centre to arrange an appointment.

Contact your local screening centre if you do not receive an invitation.

I am over the age of 71 can I still make an appointment?

We cannot offer you a screening appointment at this time. But this will be regularly reviewed.

Appointments have been prioritised for those aged 50-70 who are due screening and those who should have been screened during the pause.

Phone your GP practice if you notice any changes in your breasts (including the area up to your armpit). These may be harmless, but you should get them checked straight away.

Other signs and symptoms of breast cancer

Is it safe to attend for screening?

We’ll still have our normal safety measures, as well as adding new ones. You can help keep the risk low by following any instructions given to you, for example about arrival times or whether you should wear a face covering.

If it is not safe for any reason, for example if you are self-isolating, contact your local screening centre to rearrange your appointment.

Will my breast screening appointment be the same as before coronavirus?

Your experience at your screening appointment may be slightly different to usual because we will have more infection control measures in place.

You may be asked to arrive as close to the appointment time as possible and the staff will be wearing face masks and other personal protective equipment.

Do I need to wear a mask or gloves to my appointment?

You may be asked to wear a face covering during your appointment, in line with national guidance.

You do not need to wear gloves but should wash your hands well and often. You may be asked to use hand sanitiser before entering the screening centre.

What should I do when I arrive?

Arrive as close to your appointment time as possible and attend by yourself unless you need a carer or interpreter with you.

You’ll be given instructions about what to do once you arrive at your appointment. You may be asked to wait outside as waiting room space is limited. This will allow you to keep the recommended distance from other people.

Should I attend my appointment if there are coronavirus restrictions in my local area, or across Scotland?

It’s safe to attend your screening appointment, even if there are coronavirus restrictions in your local area or across Scotland. We have put measures in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

Further information

Public Health Scotland has produced a leaflet explaining the changes you can expect when attending breast screening in Scotland during coronavirus.

This leaflet is also available in other languages and in Easy Read format.​

Breast screening appointments during coronavirus leaflet

Breast screening leaflet in audio format

Breast screening leaflet in BSL

Cervical screening resumes

The cervical screening programme has resumed routine screening and is now inviting women to be screened.

Screening will continue even when national or local restrictions are in place. Travelling to screening appointments is classed as mandatory travel, so if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

If you receive more frequent cervical screening due to a previous screening result and you were due to be invited during the pause you will receive your invitation or any reminders you were due by the end of September. If you don’t receive your invitation please contact your GP practice.

Invitations, appointments and reminders

We’ll start to send out invitations and reminders to those who attend routine screening appointments from September. This is those whose previous screening result showed no changes and are screened every 3 or 5 years. 

However as we paused screening during COVID-19, there will be a delay of up to six months in your invitation being sent out.

You may also have to wait longer than usual for your appointment at your GP Practice. This is because there are fewer appointments at GP practices due to the extra measures that are being put in place to keep you and our staff safe. Please be patient as we’re working as hard as we can to get the service back up and running

Cervical screening is the best way of finding out if you’re at risk of cervical cancer.

Should you have any symptoms of cervical cancer it's important you contact your GP practice.

Who will be offered screening

Cervical screening is routinely offered to women and anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64.

If you need more regular screening, you will be invited up to 70 years of age.

Anyone who was due their last screening invite during the pause will get one – regardless of age.

Your cervical screening appointment

Coronavirus symptoms, self-isolating and shielding

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, or have been in contact with someone who does, you should not go to your cervical screening appointment.

Contact your GP practice and let them know you have coronavirus symptoms. They can help rearrange your appointment for after you have isolated.

If you were shielding, you may want to discuss your risk of coronavirus with the healthcare professional who helps you manage any conditions. It may also help to contact your GP practice and ask what safety measures they have in place.

Shielding information may change, so check the most up-to-date advice on shielding.

Making an appointment

If you have had your cervical screening invitation, you can contact your GP practice to book an appointment.

You may have to wait longer than usual for your appointment at your GP Practice.

This is because there are fewer appointments at GP practices due to the extra measures that are being put in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Please be patient as we’re working as hard as we can to get the service back up and running

Attending your appointment

It's your choice whether to book an appointment for cervical screening.

Safety measures have been put in place to keep you and their staff safe and well. If you want to know what your GP practice is doing, contact them by phone.

Most GP practices are asking that you don’t take anyone, including children, to your appointment to keep you and everyone who works there as safe and well as possible.

You may be able to have an extra member of staff with you, if having another person in the room is helpful. This person is sometimes called a chaperone.

If you find cervical screening difficult without having a trusted person with you, or need them for assistance, tell your GP practice.

If you have a childcare issue or need to have your child with you for another reason, tell your GP practice. They may be allowed to come with you.

Going for screening every time you’re invited is the best thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer. It could save your life.

Cervical cancer symptoms

Should you have any symptoms of cervical cancer it's important you contact your GP practice.

A doctor should assess you over the phone or by video call. They can decide whether you need a face-to-face appointment to do a further examination.

Cervical cancer is rare, so the likelihood that your symptoms are caused by cervical cancer is low, but it's still important to get medical advice.

Screening results

You should still get your results within 2 weeks after your appointment.

If you don't receive your results within the expected time, you can phone your GP practice to ask when they might arrive.

Common questions

My invite was due during the pause. When will I receive it?

If you receive more frequent cervical screening due to a previous screening result and you were due to be invited during the pause you will receive your invitation or any reminders you were due by the end of September.

If you don’t receive your invitation please contact your GP practice.

We’ll start to send out invitations and reminders to those who attend routine screening appointments from September.

This is those whose previous screening result showed no changes and are screened every 3 or 5 years. 

However as we paused screening during COVID-19, there will be a delay of up to six months in your invitation being sent out.

You may also have to wait longer than usual for your appointment at your GP Practice.

This is because there are fewer appointments at GP practices due to the extra measures that are being put in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Please be patient as we’re working as hard as we can to get the service back up and running

Can I make an appointment now?

If you have already received your invitation, you can contact your GP practice to book an appointment.

You may have to wait longer than usual for your appointment at your GP Practice.

This is because there are fewer appointments at GP practices due to the extra measures that are being put in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Please be patient as we’re working as hard as we can to get the service back up and running

If you receive more frequent cervical screening due to a previous screening result and you were due to be invited during the pause you will receive your invitation or any reminders you were due by the end of September.

If you don’t receive your invitation please contact your GP practice.

We’ll start to send out invitations and reminders to those who attend routine screening appointments from September.

This is those whose previous screening result showed no changes and are screened every 3 or 5 years.

Is it safe to go to my cervical screening appointment at the moment?

Yes. Your GP practice will only offer cervical screening if they are confident they can keep you and their staff safe. Follow any instructions they give you, for example about arrival times or whether they advise you to wear a face covering.

If it is not safe for any reason, for example if you're self-isolating or shielding, your GP practice will explain this and help you make arrangements once it is safe.

Will my cervical screening appointment be the same as before coronavirus?

Your experience at your GP practice may be slightly different to usual because they will have safety measures in place.

You may be asked to arrive as close to the appointment time as possible and your nurse or doctor may be wearing a mask.

The cervical screening test itself, where your nurse or doctor takes a sample of cells from your cervix, will be exactly the same and should only take a couple of minutes.

Do I need to wear a mask or gloves to my appointment?

You may be asked to wear a face covering during your appointment, in line with national guidance.

A face covering is a piece of cloth that covers your nose and mouth to protect the people around you from coronavirus.

It is important to wash your face covering once you're back home.

Current evidence doesn't suggest that wearing gloves is helpful for the general public.

It's better to wash your hands well and often, so you may want to take a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol to your appointment.

What should I do when I arrive at my appointment?

Your GP practice should give you specific instructions about what to do once you arrive at your appointment, either when you book or a few days before your appointment.

Some GP practices are not using their waiting rooms at the moment so you may be asked to wait outside the building, sometimes at a specific door and always keeping distance from other people.

If you're asked to do this, your nurse or doctor will come and collect you for your appointment.

If you're invited to wait inside your GP practices, they will follow government guidance and make sure everyone is spaced apart from each other.

You can choose to wait outside – just make sure you let your nurse or doctor know where you are.

How long will my cervical screening take?

Some GP practices are currently allowing for longer appointment slots, usually about 30 minutes, which includes time spent waiting for your appointment and being shown to the examination room.

This longer time means the practice can follow their safety measures and make sure there aren’t too many people coming in and out of the building at once. However, the test itself should only take a few minutes.

You will still have time to ask any questions you want to ask before and after your appointment – your nurse or doctor is there to support you with any concerns.

Should I put off booking my cervical screening appointment until the coronavirus pandemic is over?

We don’t know when the coronavirus pandemic will end or the government guidance will change.

If you put off your cervical screening appointment, we can’t say how long you may be waiting for one.

You will need to think about this potential delay and your individual situation when making your decision.

Talk with your nurse or doctor about your situation, the safety measures they have in place, and any other concerns you have.

I’m worried about going to my cervical screening appointment and possibly bringing coronavirus back to my loved ones. What should I do?

Your GP practice will have safety measures in place to make this risk as low as possible.

You can help keep the risk low by following any instructions given to you when you arrive, as well as general guidance for keeping yourself safe.

Find out more about keeping yourself safe.

Is it possible to get coronavirus through cervical screening?

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, which means it affects the lungs and airways.

It is most commonly spread by droplets from the mouth or nose, when someone coughs or sneezes.

Cervical screening is not considered high risk for passing on or getting coronavirus. Your nurse or doctor should be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to make sure the risk is as low as possible.

You can also keep the risk low by following any instructions your GP practice give you about safety measures.

Can I ask to see a specific nurse or doctor?

You can ask if a specific nurse or doctor is available, but be prepared that this may not be possible.

If you would prefer to wait for a specific nurse or doctor before having cervical screening, you can choose to do this.

However, you may be waiting for an appointment for a while, as we don’t know how long the risk and safety measures will last.

Should I attend my appointment if there are coronavirus restrictions in my local area, or across Scotland?

It’s safe to attend your screening appointment, even if there are coronavirus restrictions in your local area or across Scotland. We have put measures in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

 

These commonly asked questions are based on information available on the Jo’s Trust website.

Visit Jo’s Trust where you’ll find more guidance about cervical screening and cervical cancer.

Further information

Public Health Scotland has produced a leaflet explaining the changes you can expect when attending cervical screening in Scotland during coronavirus.

This leaflet is also available in other languages and in Easy Read format.​

Cervical screening appointments during coronavirus leaflet

Cervical screening leaflet in audio format

 

Cervical screening leaflet in BSL

Diabetic retinopathy screening resumes

The diabetic retinopathy screening (DRS) programme has resumed routine screening and is now inviting people to be screened.

Screening will continue even when national or local restrictions are in place.

Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel, so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

DRS is the best way of finding out if you are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

Who will be offered screening

DRS is offered to those with diabetes who are over 12.

Your DRS appointment

Coronavirus symptoms, self-isolating and shielding

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who does, you should not go to your DRS appointment.

Contact your screening centre and let them know. They can rearrange your appointment after your isolation period.

If you're shielding, you may want to discuss your risk of coronavirus with the healthcare professional who helps you manage any conditions you may have.

Shielding information may change, so check the most up-to-date advice on shielding.

Screening invitation

When you get your invitation, read the information carefully.

If you're unsure, look for further information or talk to a local health professional to help you decide.

If you decide you don't want to attend, please contact your local screening centre to inform them of this.

If you decide to take up the invitation, you'll need to contact your local screening centre as soon as possible if you:

  • want to have someone else with you during the appointment
  • have a disability
  • need an interpreter or any other help

You may be phoned 48 hours before your appointment and coronavirus symptoms and the arrangements for your appointment will be discussed with you.

Attending your appointment

You may be asked to wear a face covering during your appointment, in line with national guidance. You may also be asked to use hand sanitiser before coming into the building.

Staff may also be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gloves, aprons, face visors or eye protection. Your screening appointment may take longer to allow the new safety measures to be followed.

Please go to your appointment alone unless you need help from a carer or family member.

Plan how you’ll get home after your appointment if you need to have eye drops.

They can affect your vision and you shouldn't drive for a few hours after you have them. Someone could wait outside and be there to drive you home.

Some people may need to be given eye drops so a good photograph can be taken.

Arrive as close to your appointment time as possible.

Anyone not attending an appointment will be asked to wait outside the building. We’re trying to limit the number of people within the building and waiting room areas.

Screening results

You should get your result within 4 weeks after your appointment. If you don't, you can phone your screening centre to ask when they might arrive.

Common questions

My invite was due during the screening pause. When will I receive it?

We'll send out invites that were due to be issued during the pause as soon as we can.

Invitations are being sent out to those who are most in need.

Can I make an appointment now?

Appointment invitations and reminders will be send out to those who are most in need

Routine screening will resume once NHS Scotland has caught up with high priority appointments affected by the pause.

Is it safe to go to my DRS appointment at the moment?

We’ll continue to take our normal safety measures and will also be following any new guidelines in line with the latest clinical guidance.

You can help keep the risk low by following any instructions given to you when you arrive, as well as general guidance for keeping yourself safe.

Find out more about keeping yourself safe.

I have a cough and/or other signs of coronavirus, what should I do?

If you have any signs of coronavirus (cough, fever or a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste), please do not go to your appointment.

Phone the number on your invitation letter to change the day of your appointment.

If you think you have coronavirus and would like to check your symptoms, phone 0800 028 2816. Find out more about the symptoms of coronavirus.

I’ve been asked to shield, should I still go to my appointment?

Shielding information may change. See the most up-to-date advice on shielding.

Will my DRS appointment be the same as before coronavirus?

Your experience may be slightly different from usual because the local programmes will have additional safety measures in place.

You may be asked to arrive as close to the appointment time as possible and your screener may be wearing PPE.

The test, involving taking photographs of your retinas, will be exactly the same and should only take a couple of minutes. The camera doesn't come into contact with your eyes.

Do I need to wear a mask or gloves to my appointment?

You may be asked to wear a face covering during your appointment, in line with national guidance.

A face covering is a piece of cloth that covers your nose and mouth to protect the people around you from coronavirus.

It is important to wash your face covering once you are back home.

Current evidence doesn't suggest wearing gloves is helpful for the general public.

It's better to wash your hands well and often. You may want to take a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol to your appointment.

What should I do when I arrive at my appointment?

A few days before your appointment, your local screening centre will give you specific instructions about what to do once you arrive.

Some NHS premises are not using waiting rooms at the moment, so you may be asked to wait outside the building, sometimes at a specific door and always keeping distance from other people.

If you're asked to do this, your screener will come and collect you for your appointment.

If you're invited to wait inside, they'll follow government guidance and make sure everyone is spaced apart from each other.

How long will my DRS appointment take?

Some local programmes are allowing for longer appointment slots of about 30 minutes, which includes time spent waiting for your appointment and being shown to the examination room.

This longer time means safety measures can be followed and ensures there aren’t too many people coming in and out of the building at once.

The test itself should only take a few minutes.

You'll still have time to ask any questions before and after your appointment – your screener is there to support you if you have any concerns.

Should I put off attending my DRS appointment until the coronavirus outbreak is over?

We don't know how long you might need to wait if you put off your DRS appointment, as we don’t know when the coronavirus outbreak will end or when government guidance will change.

You will need to consider this potential delay and your personal situation when making your decision.

Talk with your screening centre about the safety measures they have in place and any other concerns you have.

Should I put off attending my DRS appointment until the coronavirus outbreak is over?

We don't know how long you might need to wait if you put off your DRS appointment, as we don’t know when the coronavirus outbreak will end or when government guidance will change.

You will need to consider this potential delay and your personal situation when making your decision.

Talk with your screening centre about the safety measures they have in place and any other concerns you have.

I’m worried about going to my DRS appointment and possibly bringing coronavirus back to my loved ones. What should I do?

Your local screening programme will have safety measures in place to make this risk as low as possible.

You can help keep the risk low by following any instructions given to you when you arrive, as well as general guidance for keeping yourself safe.

Find out more about keeping yourself safe.

Is it possible to get coronavirus through DRS screening?

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, which means it affects the lungs and airways.

It's most commonly spread by droplets from the mouth or nose, when someone coughs or sneezes.

DRS is not considered high risk for passing on or getting coronavirus. Your screener should be wearing PPE to make sure the risk is as low as possible.

I’m self-isolating right now. Should I go to my appointment?

You should not go to your appointment if you’re self-isolating. Phone the number on your invitation letter to change the day of your appointment.

What should I do if I have concerns about my sight?

While the diabetic retinopathy screening programme in Scotland is resuming, it’s important to be symptom aware. If you notice any changes to your sight, contact your optician.

Signs and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

Should I attend my appointment if there are coronavirus restrictions in my local area, or across Scotland?

It’s safe to attend your screening appointment, even if there are coronavirus restrictions in your local area or across Scotland. We have put measures in place to keep you and our staff safe.

Travelling to screening appointments is classed as essential travel so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport you can still attend your appointment.

Further information

Public Health Scotland has produced a leaflet explaining the changes you can expect when attending DRS screening in Scotland during coronavirus.

This leaflet is also available in other languages and in Easy Read format.​

Your DRS screening appointment during coronavirus leaflet

DRS screening leaflet in audio format:

DRS leaflet in BSL