Beating bowel cancer together

Bowel screening in Scotland temporarily paused

Monday 30 March 2020

Screening for conditions including bowel, cervical and breast cancer have been paused by the Scottish Government due to the rapidly changing situation with coronavirus (COVID-19).

In practice this means no additional people will be invited for screening until further notice. Results for those who have recently been screened or who have completed and returned home test kits will continue to be processed.

Public Health Minister for Scotland, Joe FitzPatrick, said: “This has been a difficult decision to take, but it is important to be aware that these screening programmes are focused on a well population, who are not known to have the conditions they are screened for.

“I want members of the public to be assured we will restart screening programmes as soon as it is safe to do so following clinical advice. When this happens invitations will be re-issued and appointments will be rearranged.

“In the meantime, it is absolutely vital for patients in between screening appointments or awaiting a rescheduled appointment to be aware of any symptoms or signs of the conditions screened for. Anyone having these symptoms should contact their GP practice.”

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “We fully appreciate that our severely overstretched NHS is facing unprecedented demand at the moment. We know that the Scottish Government and the NHS will not have taken the decision to pause the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme lightly.

There are a number of reasons why NHS health boards requested this pause, including the reallocation and availability of staff over the coming weeks and months. This is not an ideal situation, but at times like these we need to be pragmatic and we hope the service will resume as soon as it safe to do so.” 

Screening is for people without symptoms. It is important that if you are worried about any possible bowel cancer symptoms you still contact your GP. GPs are being asked to increase their use of phone and video consulting so people don’t need to go into the surgery.

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