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Restart for bowel screening programme


By David Porter

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The Bowel Screening Programme which was paused in March because of coronavirus has resumed this week.

As part of the wider remobilisation of the NHS, bowel screening kits will begin to be posted out again, and people who were sent a screening kit before the pause are now also being asked to complete and return them.

The programme was suspended after careful consideration of the risks, including for people asked to attend follow-up investigations, such as colonoscopy appointments, as a result of their bowel screening.

Bowel screening colonoscopies have also resumed for those whose test results need further investigation.

A range of additional safety measures have been put in place to allow staff and patients to adhere to physical distancing, staff will wear necessary personal protective equipment and there will be staggered appointments to ensure quieter waiting areas.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick

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.

“The safety of patients and staff will be our priority as we continue to deliver the national screening programmes during and beyond the Covid outbreak.”

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive at 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.”

While bowel screening does not involve an appointment, it is important to be aware that travelling to colonoscopies is classed as essential travel, so even if restrictions apply to travel or public transport people can still attend the appointment.

This is the case for all screening and follow-up appointments.



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