In 2018, the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme by Dr Gabriel Scally ('the Scally Report'), recommended the establishment of a National Screening Committee to advise the Department of Health and the Minister on all new proposals for screening and on revisions to current programmes. Following this report, the National Screening Advisory Committee (NSAC) was established in 2019 by the Minister for Health as an independent advisory committee to play a significant strategic role in the development and consideration of population-based screening programmes in Ireland. At the request of the Department of Health, the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) directorate within the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) undertakes evidence synthesis and provides evidence-based advice to NSAC on behalf of the Minister for Health.
As part of the establishment of its working practices, NSAC has outlined that an ethics framework will provide an important structure to support evaluations and deliberations in relation to population-based screening programmes. It is the intention of NSAC that the framework will detail both substantive values for the assessment of screening policy and procedural values to guide the deliberations.
At the request of NSAC, the purpose of this report is to describe a review undertaken by the Evaluation Team at HIQA to outline ethics frameworks used internationally for policy-making in the context of screening, with the goal of informing subsequent stages of development of the NSAC ethics framework.