Bowel cancer screening programme gets back up to speed
Patients are being urged to not put off taking part in the bowel cancer screening programme after services resumed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The screening programme at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) was paused during the peak of coronavirus cases. However, NNUH staff at the endoscopy unit in the Quadram Institute were able to clear the colonoscopy waiting list at the beginning of June as soon as services restarted.
People between the ages of 60 and 74 are automatically invited to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme every two years and patients are asked to have further tests to confirm or rule out cancer if a home testing kit finds anything unusual.
Consultant Richard Tighe, clinical lead for endoscopy at NNUH, said: “We reopened the endoscopy unit at the end of May and saw 140 bowel cancer screening patients and about 500 referrals for colonoscopy and gastroscopy procedures in the first two weeks of June. Having the endoscopy unit at the Quadram Institute has been very helpful because it is a standalone facility and we have been able to keep it Covid secure all the way.”
“There are some patients who have been shielding who are reticent to come in for investigations. However, we have made our services as safe as possible and it is important that patients take part in the screening programme.”
Tracy McDonnell, Lead Nurse at the endoscopy unit, added: “We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that our patients can be confident that they are safe when they come here by testing them for Covid-19 prior to their procedure.”
“We also ask people to come to their appointment alone and to wear a face covering. When they arrive, we take their temperature and check they have no symptoms and we have introduced a one-way system to provide a safe pathway through the building.”