• 6Jun

    Better information needed to support people testing for bowel cancer

    A new report from Bowel Cancer UK, Right Test Right Time, has examined to state of bowel cancer testing in the UK.

    In September 2013 the organisation ran a survey asking people about their experience of having an endoscopic procedure, such as a colonoscopy or a flexible sigmoidoscopy (flexisig).

    The survey ran for six weeks and a total of 708 people responded. It asked a number of questions to help create a detailed picture of endoscopy services from the perspective of patients, ranging from how they were first directed to endoscopy services, to what prompted them to see their GP, and their information needs.

    The report finds serious problems with endoscopy services, with referral criteria, waiting times and quality of services being the key issues.

    The research shows that not all patients are provided with the information they need to help them understand why they are having an endoscopy, what it involves and the importance of having the procedure. It also found that 80 per cent of our respondents were not asked about their experience of having the test. The report recommends that all endoscopy units should capture patient experience, and ensure all patients have a positive experience of their care, and to provide them with accurate, clear and comprehensive information on their care.

    The report discusses the right to test, changing demand, waiting times, improving quality and empowering patients.

    Key recommendations in the report include:

    • The urgent referral pathway for suspected bowel cancer should be liberalised so that GPs can refer a patient at lower levels of risk than currently apply. This would mean that patients with persistent ‘low risk’ symptoms or non-specific symptoms would be assessed more.
    • Greater investment in endoscopy services to ensure future demand for services is adequately met and that we are not left with situation where patients are kept waiting for a crucial diagnostic test.
    • The Joint Advisory Group’s accreditation, which sets out clearly what constitutes best practice and good quality care must be made mandatory for all units across the UK including private providers.

    The full report can be read here.