The UK NSC recommendation on Screening in old age to prevent hospitalisation and death

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed December 2013
Next review due in 2016/17
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Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

A review found that the screening tests used to identify people who are at risk of being ill enough to go to hospital are not accurate enough.

This means that many older people would be followed up and made unnecessarily anxious and others who are at risk would be sent away without the support that they might need.

The committee also agreed that it is difficult to assess screening for the many health problems that might cause an elderly person to be admitted to hospital. In line with its usual practice the UK NSC has agreed that screening proposals for older people will be reviewed for individual health problems in future.

More about Old Age

Over the last decade there has been a much higher increasee in the number of hospital admissions in the UK for people over 75. Between 2000/01 and 2010/11 there has been a 65% increase in the number of hospital admissions for people over 75, compared to a 43% increase in the general population.

Though the population of over 75s in the uk is 8%, around 25% of all hospital admissions, seen by a consultant in 2010/11, were for people over 75. The average hospital admission was twice the length (10.5 days compared to 5.5) in people over 75 when compared to the general population.   

The screening policy review aims to assess the ability to screen this population to prevent hospitalisation and death  

» Read more about staying healthy as an older person on NHS Choices


Association of British Neurologists
The British Psychological Society
Faculty of Public Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

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