NHS England urged to follow Scotland’s more inclusive bowel screening and save thousands of lives but it’s not newsworthy here

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.

Click to access state_of_the_nation_april_2019.pdf

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%.


9 thoughts on “NHS England urged to follow Scotland’s more inclusive bowel screening and save thousands of lives but it’s not newsworthy here”

  1. Meanwhile SNP Scottish Govt work out an innovative deal with a major Pharma Group to introduce 2 CF drugs at discounted rates for 5 years – whilst the company commit to gathering further stats to present to Scottish Medicines’ Consortium. Doing that Day Job thing once again. link and snippets below:


    A five year pricing agreement to supply NHS Scotland with medicines to benefit patients living with cystic fibrosis in Scotland has been secured following discussions between Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the Scottish Government.

    The five year agreement for the supply to NHS Scotland of the medicines means that clinicians in cystic fibrosis treatment centres can prescribe Orkambi® and Symkevi® to all patients whom they consider will benefit from their use. It is the first agreement anywhere in the UK that allows these medicines to be available in this way.

    Vertex has also undertaken to arrange for data to be collected about the effects achieved by the medicines utilising the UK CF Registry and to resubmit the medicines to the Scottish Medicines Consortium during the course of the agreement.

    Around 900 people in Scotland live with cystic fibrosis. Of these, about 400 may be suitable for treatment with the new medicines.


    1. Ludo,
      It is only a few weeks ago that NHS Scotland but in particular the SG were getting pelters for not supplying these drugs. What the reports omitted to say was that some patients in Scotland were in fact getting the drugs. There is a system in place whereby a patient’s consultant can make a case for their patient to get the medicine. The reports also omitted to mention the fact that these drugs were not being made available by any of the NHS sectors in the UK in fact the impression was given/implied/inferred that they were available elsewhere.. NHS England had tried to negotiate a deal with the company to get the drugs at a discounted price. The deal was turned down. The reports also failed to mention that there had been demonstrations at Westminster by groups desperate to get the drugs – tonight the BBC let that cat out of the bag during their report on this during the 6 o’clock news and that, contrary to the reports a few weeks ago, some patients were getting the drugs because they had been assessed as likely to benefit from them. Not all patients with CF will do so. Something else that had been glossed over a few weeks ago.


      1. Indeed, there was an interview with one of the campaigners, who pointed out that while she was very happy with how NHS Scotland has responded, she is unhappy because there are many more sufferers in England who are not benefitting.

        Stiil, Jackson Carlaw is demanding ‘heads must roll’ because the Edinburgh Sick Children’s Hospital will not be open fully until next year. It is amazing how once someone is BLAMED the problem is solved immediately!!!!


  2. Beeb Scotland apparently not interested in the (rather splendid) interim figures regarding the roll out of the SNP Scottish Govt’s provision of free access to sanitary care products to Scotland’s schools, Colleges and Unis. It was the 1st anniversary of introducing the scheme. Given that Scotland is, literally, the world leader in this project the new stats might have been considered worth a mention in any normal country. Heigh Ho – John’s blog has to fill in when the ‘Scottish’ msm fall down on job, yet again. Interim 6 month info carried today on news.gov.scot. Link and snippet below:


    The Scottish Government was the first government in the world to provide free access to sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities.

    Provisional data suggests that more than 5,095,051 sanitary products were purchased by local authorities over the first six months of delivery at a cost of £566,909 excluding VAT.

    By February 2019, all colleges and universities had made progress towards delivering the Programme for Government commitment to provide access to free sanitary products.

    Based on available data from 24 colleges, 878,604 sanitary products were purchased up to February 2019. Based on data from 19 universities, 2,296,474 sanitary products were purchased between September 2018 and February 2019.

    The Scottish Government is providing up to £5.5 million to continue delivery of this policy in 2019/20.

    (The fact that no pigeon droppings were involved in the provision of this valuable project probably damned its chances of a mention on beeb Scotland).

    Liked by 1 person

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