National Cancer Screening Register
October 2016 Newsletter

Page last updated: 15 November 2016

Printable version of National Cancer Screening Register October 2016 Newsletter (PDF 73 KB)

This is the second newsletter in a series of National Cancer Screening Register updates from the National Cancer Screening Register Implementation Branch.

By way of background, in May 2016 the Department of Health (Health) appointed Telstra Health to develop and operate a National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) to support the renewed National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) and the accelerated expansion of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

The NCSR will be an integral part of cancer screening service delivery. It will provide national digital health infrastructure for the recording, analysis and reporting of cancer screening data for both screening programs; and the operational services required for supporting the two programs along the screening pathways. Once implemented, it will provide a platform for additional screening programs into the future.

The NCSR will replace the existing National Bowel Cancer Screening Register, currently administered by the Department of Human Services, and up to eight state and territory cervical screening registers at the discretion of the states and territories.

National Cancer Screening Register Legislation

On 20 October the National Cancer Screening Register Bill 2016 and National Cancer Screening Register (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016 received Royal Assent. This allows for operation of the NCSR and data migration from the existing cervical and bowel screening registers.

The National Cancer Screening Register Act 2016 provides the legislative framework to safeguard protected information in the register by prohibiting its use and disclosure for purposes outside the requirements to operate the NCSR; and creating an offence arising from the unauthorised recording, use or disclosure of personal information contained in the NCSR. The legislation also requires notification to the Information and Privacy Commissioner if there is a data breach.

The NCSR Bills were first introduced into Parliament on 5 May 2016 and lapsed as a result of the Federal Election. The Bills were reintroduced on 31 August 2016 and were referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Legislation Committee (the Committee) on 13 September 2016. The Senate Inquiry received a total of 26 submissions (including the Department’s submission) and reported on their findings on 11 October 2016.

The Bills were passed through Parliament on 13 October. View the National Cancer Screening Register Act 2016.

Notifications to the Chief Medical Officer

The National Cancer Screening Register Act 2016 includes a requirement for prescribed individual healthcare providers to report prescribed information to the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer (CMO). This will commence on 1 May 2017.

Details of what information must be reported to the CMO and by who are to be prescribed in a legislative instrument (Rule). The requirement to notify the CMO will allow individuals’ screening test results/outcome data (including benign, inflammatory and negative results) and results of relevant follow-up procedures up to and including the diagnosis (or clearance) of cancer to be routinely reported to the CMO.

Complete and accurate data will allow the screening processes and clinical pathways to operate safely, efficiently and effectively. High quality data will also help inform policy for the national screening programs and service delivery at the local level.

The renewed NCSP will require all colposcopists to report a minimum data set to the Register. The range of information required to be reported has not yet been determined; however, a Colposcopy Sub-group of the NCSP Quality and Safety Monitoring Committee has considered the minimum data set required as part of the Quality Framework for the NCSP. Health is finalising a survey for colposcopists which will be used to inform the development of rules for mandatory reporting to the Register.

Register Implementation and Transition

Since the last update in August, Telstra Health have completed the ‘discovery’ phase, consulting on the current business processes of the existing bowel and cervical screening registers. Workflow definition and configuration of the system are in progress. Implementation and transition planning has commenced with Health, the Department of Human Services and all states and territories. Infrastructure has been built for pathology providers to be able to exchange messages with the Register. It will soon be made available for providers to build and test against.

As they move into the delivery phase Telstra Health have appointed Professor David Ashbridge to the role of NCSR Director. Professor Ashbridge brings 20 years of experience as a GP in the Northern Territory and a further 20 years in Health Service Executive roles including Head of Public/Primary Healthcare, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Northern Territory Department of Health and CEO of Barwon Health. Health welcomes Professor Ashbridge to his new position and looks forward to developing a strong and collaborative relationship.

Stakeholder engagement

The new NCSR Director Professor David Ashbridge is keen to connect with key Register partners and looks forward to meeting with many of you soon. Professor Ashbridge and the Register’s GP Lead met with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners on the 17th October to follow up on the initial meeting in August.

To further develop plans for transitional activities, Telstra Health and Health convened planning meetings with the current register operators, the Department of Human Services and the States and Territories during September and October.

On 2 November, Health and Telstra Health will meet with representatives of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Australian Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology to discuss upcoming changes for colposcopists and inform requirements for mandatory reporting to the Register.

Implementation date

The Register remains on track to support the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program from 20 March 2017 and the National Cervical Screening Program renewal by 1 May 2017.

Further information