Bowel screening resumes after covid pause


Scotland’s bowel screening programme has resumed after a pause of several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.


As part of the wider remobilisation of the NHS, bowel screening kits will begin to be posted out again to people over the age of 50 to help tackle the nation’s second-biggest cancer killer.


Anyone who was sent a screening test before the pause is now also being asked to complete and return them.


The programme was suspended in March, after consideration of the risks including how people could safely attend follow-up appointments.


Bowel screening colonoscopies have resumed for those whose test results need further investigation, with additional safety measures in place such as physical distancing, PPE for staff and staggered appointments


Patients are being advised they can still attend these appointments- even if covid restrictions are in force – as it is counted as essential travel.


Concerns have been raised over the possibility of a ‘tsunami’ of cancer deaths after almost 400,000 screenings were paused due to the pandemic – including 248,177 bowel screenings.


Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “The temporary pause of adult national screening programmes was one of a series of difficult decisions we have had to make in responding to the impact of covid-19.


“I welcome the restart of the bowel screening programme, and I would urge everyone who is sent a bowel screening kit to return it – including people who received their kit before the pause in March.”


Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at charity Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Bowel cancer is Scotland’s second biggest cancer killer but it’s treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early.


“While we all clearly understand the massive impact the pandemic has had on the NHS, getting back on track with screening now will help to save lives, and we urge all over 50s to complete it.”


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