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A bowel cancer screening plan at last

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To the Editor: The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) sees general practitioners as “critical partners”,1 but has not really involved or supported GPs, who have personal frequent contact with a large proportion of the NBCSP’s target population. GP endorsement increases uptake,2,3 but the NBCSP does not fund GPs to send reminder letters to their patients.

The NBCSP informs GPs about who has used a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit and returned samples, but it sends these reports on paper, which creates extra work of scanning results into patients’ electronic clinical records and, more importantly, prevents GPs’ clinical software from automatically generating appropriate reminders. Automated reminders can be displayed onscreen to GPs during consultations, and now can also be given to patients when they arrive for consultations, as printed prevention summaries based on current data in the patient’s electronic clinical record.4,5

Uptake of bowel cancer screening is likely to be greater if general practice is a true partner in the process, as occurs in the cervical screening program. Following this model, the NBCSP would perform a back-up function to notify the person’s…