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The NI Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme Service User Event

The NI Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme holds an annual service user event to help inform on-going service developments in  this area.  The event invites men who have been screen-detected with AAA, with their families and friends to attend.  The sixth workshop took place in April 2018 in Belfast and was attended by over 50 service users. Over 20 members of the programme team where also in attendance, including staff from the Public Health Agency (PHA) who commission the service and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) staff who provide the screening service alongside other NIAAASP stakeholders.

At what level did the PPI take place?

  • Service development.

PPI helped the project to

  • Improve efficiency of a service;
  • Improve quality.


The Northern Ireland Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme was first introduced in 2012 and is currently offered to men aged 65 and over are most at risk of AAAs.  Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening is a way of checking if there’s a bulge or swelling in the aorta, the main blood vessel that runs from your heart down through your tummy.

With the introduction of the AAA Screen Programme in 2012, commissioners and service providers where keen to embed the ethos of personal and public involvement within the programmes structure from the outset. To facilitate this, the programme embarked on a wide range of PPI-related initiatives to ensure the service user / patient voice was heard and robust mechanisms where in place to ensure service-user driven suggestions for programme improvements could be effectively progressed and implemented. At the heart of this is the annual service user event which serves as a key point of contact between service users and programming providers and a resource for promoting and implementing PPI.

Aim of involvement

The workshop is held on an annual basis and seeks to:

  • Provide participants with a summary of key service developments, including any progress on improvement ideas generated from the previous years event;
  • To facilitate group discussions between service users, providers and commissioners to identify potential future improvements;
  • to highlight the importance of PPI for continuous quality improvement within the programme and provide suggestions for ways in which service users can get involved.

Method(s) of Involvement

An annual workshop is held to supports face to face engagement with service users.  The event gathers a wide range of information which helps to inform on-going service developents.  The workshop includes:

  • Updates on the screening programme performance, new developments and future changes;
  • Opportunities for discussing the current programme in relation to what works well in the programme, what can be improved and potential ideas for development;
  • Opportunities to discuss specific areas of improvement, for example the post-surgery information leaflets or results letter;
  • Question and answer session with the Clinical Lead / Public Health Lead.


In previous years the programme only invited men who had been screen-detected with an AAA in the previous year.  This resulted in between 15 – 20 service users attending which, while very useful, sometimes restricted the breadth and depth of debates. From 2017, men screen detected with AAA in any year from the start of the screening programme were invited.  This has proven successful as the numbers attending have increased to 70 service users in 2017 and over 50 in 2018.

Outcomes due to involvement

As a result of the service user workshops the following has been achieved:

  • Recruitment of patient representatives to sit on the programme’s main operational management group;
  • The development of a post-surgery leaflet primarily for screen detected men identified with a large AAA requiring surgery;
  • The development of service user video testimonial’s;
  • Design and introduction of an alert card for men under surveillance which is wallet sized and contains details of how frequently a man attends for surveillance scans;
  • An update to patient results letters which now includes the size of the scanned AAA;
  • To remember that service users are an integral part of service delivery and improvement. If it weren’t for service users, a service wouldn’t be necessary, so it makes sense to involve them at all possible stages of planning, implementation and improvement.

Feedback/quotes from service users/carers involved

“Just keep up the good work that you do”

“A well run event, no changes required”



Further Information


For further information, contact:
Jacqueline McDevitt (Quality Assurance & Commissioning Support Manager)
Public Health Agency

Email: Jacqueline.McDevitt@hscni.net
Tel: 028 9536 1505