NHS publishes cancer screening review
Today (16 October 2019) NHS England has published Professor Sir Mike Richards’ independent review of national cancer screening programmes in England. The review aims to overhaul cancer screening in England as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s renewed drive to improve cancer care and save lives.
In April we submitted evidence to the review, highlighting the current issues with the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BSCP) and made recommendations for immediate and future improvements. The report today addresses a number of these issues and calls for:
- Screening (regular check-up) colonoscopies for people with Lynch syndrome to be funded nationally by NHS England
- NHS England to become the single body responsible for funding and delivery of screening services
- An increase in the uptake of bowel cancer screening, especially for minority groups and those living in deprived areas
- NHS staff shortages to be addressed in order to make vital improvements to the BCSP, including lowering the screening age from 60 to 50 and increasing sensitivity of the new Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT).
Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, says:
“We warmly welcome Professor Sir Mike Richards’ review, which makes much-needed recommendations to streamline the governance and funding of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) in England.
“We are delighted to see Professor Richards call for targeted screening, including the screening of people with Lynch syndrome, to be funded nationally by NHS England. Lynch syndrome is a genetic condition that increases your risk of bowel cancer to as much as 80%. Regular colonoscopies for people with Lynch syndrome can significantly reduce their risk of dying so it is vital this is implemented.
“We are extremely pleased that the review echoes our concerns around NHS staff shortages, which must be addressed in order to deliver vital improvements to screening for bowel cancer. These include the Government’s commitment to lowering the screening age from 60 to 50 as well as increasing the sensitivity of the new, easier to use, Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). A fully-funded workforce strategy must be developed urgently in order for this to be achieved.
“We look forward to working with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and NHS England to ensure bowel cancer can be prevented, or diagnosed at the earliest opportunity when treatment can be more successful.”