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Volume 2 Supplement 2

Symposium Mammographicum 2000

Open Access

'To failsafe' or 'not to failsafe', that is the question?

  • M Wheaton1 and
  • M Gray1
Breast Cancer Research20002(Suppl 2):A68

Published: 1 October 2000


Full TextScreen ProgrammeRoutine ScreeningBreast ScreeningLarge Geographical Area

Full text

Ever since the beginning of the NHS Breast Screening Programme, the effectiveness of failsafe batch procedures has been questioned. These procedures ensure that all women are given the opportunity to attend for breast screening. Women may: (1) move home; (2) amend incorrect data; (3) register with a GP for the first time etc.

It is imperative that these women do not miss out on their routine screening invitation. All services are aware of this problem, but many have devised alternative mechanisms to failsafe. Reasons for this include:
  1. 1.

    Not trusting the HA computer system to 'pick up' the correct women leading to inappropriate invitations being sent.

  2. 2.

    The availability of alternative information about 'missed' women from HAs allowing manual invitations to be initiated.

  3. 3.

    Services covering large geographical areas not having an appropriately located unit at the time women are picked up in a failsafe batch.


We have been working together to develop new NHSBSP failsafe guidelines for screening services, not only to promote a standardised failsafe procedure across the NHSBSP, but also to enable services to maximise the undoubted benefits of running failsafe batches on a 3-monthly basis or less.

Authors’ Affiliations

Warwickshire, Solihull and Coventry Breast Screening Unit, Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, Coventry, UK


© Current Science Ltd 2000