Beating bowel cancer together

Scottish Government to invest £7.8m in endoscopy

The Scottish Government has announced £7.8m investment to tackle the backlog of patients waiting to have an endoscopy. This includes colonoscopy, the procedure used to diagnose bowel cancer as well as detect polyps, pre-cancerous growths that can develop into the disease if not removed.   

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all but emergency endoscopies were stopped across the UK. The procedures have recently started to resume, however at a much slower rate. This has also had a spill-over effect on bowel cancer screening. The Scottish Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, which has been paused since March, can only restart if there is enough endoscopy capacity in place.

The government has said new technology as well as additional capacity - the NHS Golden Jubilee Hospital, mobile endoscopy units and units in the private sector - will help resolve the endoscopy backlog.

Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman said: "There's no question that stopping endoscopy services for all cases except emergencies was a difficult decision to take. But it was necessary so we could deal with the challenge of Covid-19.

"I'm pleased that as we continue to see positive results in dealing with the virus we can now move to treat the many patients who have been waiting, and we will do that safely and sustainably.”

Genevieve Edwards, CEO of Bowel Cancer UK said: “Today’s investment is a welcomed, important step in the right direction to recover endoscopy services across Scotland. Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early. The COVID-19 crisis has severely impacted services that diagnose bowel cancer and people waiting longer than normal for endoscopy are at risk of suffering worse outcomes as a result of a later diagnosis. 

The Scottish Government must now outline how this money will be allocated, including whether it can also support the Scottish Bowel Cancer Screening Programme to resume quicker.”

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