There’s no breakdown of Scottish figures. When I ask for one, I get either ignored or I’m told ‘the Scottish sample is too small to be significant so we’re not telling you.’
However, there is a bit of news of interest to us if not to Reporting Scotland:
Across the UK, only around 60% of people invited to take part in bowel screening do so. A new screening test called the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is already in place in Scotland and is rolling out in Wales and England in 2019, and Northern Ireland have pledged to introduce FIT screening in 2020.
However, for cost reasons, NHS England plan a less effective test:
Wales and England are planning on rolling out at a threshold of 150ug/g and 120ug/g respectively. A lower threshold is more sensitive and will detect more cases of cancer and advanced adenomas (pre-cancerous growths) but requires more colonoscopies and an increased demand for pathology.
The introduction of FIT has been shown to improve uptake in Scotland, particularly in groups with low participation. Similar increases will be expected once the test is rolled out in England and Wales. It will be important to monitor inequalities and continue to remove barriers to participation.
For any Scottish journalists reading this, the Scottish data is:
Statistics show that from November 2017 to April 2018, 64% of those eligible returned their FIT. In the same period the year before, uptake of the old test (the Faecal Occult Blood Test) was 56%. The biggest improvement in participation with FIT has been amongst those living in the most deprived areas – up from 42.0% to 51.8%.