Beating bowel cancer together

Empowering Kirklees engagement officers to spread bowel health messages

We were delighted recently to support community engagement officers in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, West Yorkshire to enhance their knowledge of bowel cancer. This was especially welcome to the charity as community engagement officers will be talking to people that often don’t take part in screening or people we know don’t return the screening test such as BME communities and people with learning disabilities.

Public Health England’s research this year found that only 54 per cent of people of screening age living in the area covered by NHS North Kirklees CCG took part in screening. Whereas 62 per cent took part living in the area of NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG, which is higher than the English average of 58 per cent.

The talk raised the important issue that the test used for the screening programme is set to change in 2018. The new test called the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) will replace the current guaiac Faecal Occult Blood Test. FIT has been proven to be more accurate and easier for people to complete than the current test used in the Programme. Research has shown that FIT can increase uptake by 10% and even double uptake in groups that have previously not taken part in the programme.

The talk also highlighted how BME communities could reduce their risk of developing bowel cancer and community engagement officers shared ideas to work better with staff from learning disability services as often health campaigns do not reach this community.

Reema Huzair, Senior Health Promotion and Training Officer at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “I’m thrilled that the community engagement officers are now busy in their local area using our training and resources to raise awareness of the importance of good bowel health and the NHS bowel cancer screening programme. We will stay in touch with the team to see how the project has changed screening uptake in Kirklees.” 

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