Posted on Wednesday 13th July 2011
The bowel cancer screening programme for north Cumbria has received high praise following a two-day inspection.
Staff were called a “dedicated, committed, enthusiastic team” following the visit by the North West Quality Assurance bowel cancer screening team.
Standards across all areas were said to be very good, as was uptake of the programme. There was also praise for “good leadership and team spirit”.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme has been running in Cumbria and the Morecambe Bay area since April 2008, with more than 135,000 home testing kits sent out to 60 to 75-year-olds in the first three years.
The Cumbria and Morecambe Bay Bowel Screening Centre is run jointly by North Cumbria University Hospitals and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, administered from Carlisle and Kendal, with clinics held at the Cumberland Infirmary, West Cumberland Hospital and other centres across the area.
The report praised the excellent working relationship between the two sites: “Given the wide, mainly rural, geographical area the screening centre covers, a practical and workable solution has been developed by having two administrative centres. Very good communication systems and team work exist between the two sites, ensuring a seamless service for the whole population.”
People between the ages of 60 and 75 are sent a home testing kit to provide a stool sample which they return in the post. Uptake for the Cumbria and Morecambe Bay centre was 64% in 2010, significantly higher than the North West rate of 54%.
Of those invited to attend hospital for a colonoscopy following testing, 99% agreed to attend, much higher than the Quality Assurance target of 85%.
There was praise not only for clinical staff but also administrators “who have developed excellent communication systems between themselves and colleagues, ensuring the programme is deliverable to the whole population” and pathologists who demonstrated “good laboratory processes and high technical standards”.
The “effective working relationship” between specialist screening practitioners (SSPs) and consultants was highlighted, with an “excellent commitment to improving patient experience within the team”. All colonoscopists were said to be performing “to a very high standard”, while “patients clearly appreciate being cared for by small, friendly teams and it is clear that endoscopists work well together under good leadership”.
Frank Hinson, Lead Colonoscopist at the Cumberland Infirmary, said: “We are proud to provide safe, high quality patient care and it is nice to have this recognised following a thorough two-day inspection. We have a very good uptake for bowel cancer screening but there is always more we can do and we are always striving to improve the service we offer.
“This report should encourage more people to return their testing kits and let us further reduce suffering from bowel cancer.”
Bowel cancer affects over 38,500 people every year in the UK but 90% of cases can be treated if caught early enough, before it has had a chance to spread.
For more information visit http://www.beatingbowelcancer.org/.