Bowel Cancer Screening Programme
The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Eastern Hub, based at the Queen's Medical Centre, is one of the five Hubs in the English NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) responsible for screening the population for bowel cancer in England.
The FOBt screening programme invites men and women aged 60-74 and who are registered with an NHS general practice to complete an FOB test every two years. The testing kit is posted to them at their homes. People found to have abnormal tests are then referred to their local Screening Centre for further assessment with most going on to have a colonoscopy. The Eastern Hub currently refers people with abnormal tests to 14 Screening Centres in the Eastern region and occasionally to Screening Centres covered by other Hubs. People whose FOB test proves to be normal are written to and advised that they will be sent another kit in 2 years provided they are still under 75.
The guaiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) kit was phased out during 2019 and replaced by a new test kit called the faecal immunochemical test (FIT), introduced in England in June 2019. This kit is now sent with all invitations for bowel cancer screening.
The Eastern Hub is UKAS accredited to ISO 15189:2012 for the guaiac method and has applied to be accredited for the faecal immunochemical test following assessment.
About our service
The primary task for each of the 5 Hubs in England is to effectively and efficiently organise and manage the first stage of the programme pathway.
The Hub’s main responsibilities are:
- Sending out kits to invited subjects and the subsequent testing of returned kits.
- Calling and recalling subjects for screening.
- Providing a free telephone helpline for subjects.
- Booking appointments for subjects with an abnormal result with a Specialist Screening Practitioner.
- Sending out result letters to subjects and GPs.
- Providing reports and data analysis, including performance monitoring data, to Screening Centres, Commissioners, National Office and Screening Quality Assurance Services.
- Maintaining a UKAS accredited ISO 15189:2012 service that meets national standards.
- Supporting agreed BCSP research and development projects.
The Hub's normal opening hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday. A freephone helpline; 0800 707 60 60 provides additional support to those taking up the offer of Bowel Cancer Screening. An answerphone service is available for out of hours queries.
The Bowelscope programme invites people aged 55 to attend their local Screening Centre for a once only flexible sigmoidoscopy screening which can examine the lower bowel (rectum and sigmoid colon) where 60% of all bowel cancers occur. The aim of the programme is to identify and remove certain bowel polyps (adenomatous polyps) and in doing so prevent bowel cancer developing, in contrast to the FOBt programme which primarily aims to detect early cancer. The Hubs role is to organise the invitations and respond to the helpline enquiries.
The Hub is a hive of activity, and for an average week:
- Sends out 18,800 invites.
- Sends out 19,200 test kits (including retest/replacement kits and over age self referrals).
- Receives and tests 13,500 kits.
- Dispatches 13,500 subject results.
- Dispatches 13,500 GP results.
- Answers 2,400 helpline calls.
- Books 280 specialist screening practitioner (SSP) positive assessment appointments.
There are targets and standards around the testing and reporting of results which we have to meet. These are:
- Returned kits to be tested and reported within 3 calendar days of receipt in the laboratory.
- Abnormal results to be sent out within 1 working day of becoming available
- Normal test kit results to be sent to participants within 7 days of the result being available.
- Primary clinic bookings to be offered by the Hub to positive participants within 14 days of the positive FOBT test result.
The Hubs most recent comprehensive report covering the calendar years 2016/17, published November 2018, is available to download below.
The Hubs next biennial report is due autumn 2020 and will cover the calendar years 2018 & 2019.
Symptomatic FIT service
The Hub also provides Faecal Immunochemical testing of symptomatic patients referred from GPs and via in-house Consultants, for which the service is UKAS accredited to ISO 15189:2012.