The HSE’s national colorectal screening programme, BowelScreen, commenced in November 2012 and is being introduced on a phased basis to men and women between the ages of 60-69 years. When fully implemented the programme will offer free screening to men and women aged 55-74 every two years. The screening test, known as a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), is a home based test and approximately 94 to 95 per cent of people will receive a normal result and will be invited for routine screening again in two years time. A small number, in the region of five to six per cent, will receive a not normal result and will require an additional test. They will be referred for a colonoscopy to a Screening Colonoscopy Unit within a hospital contracted by the HSE’s National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) for provision of this service.
Over half of the initially selected fifteen candidate screening colonoscopy units have been accredited to date, and the remainder of units continue to work to achieve this benchmark. Also a number of additional units are pursuing NHS Joint Advisory Group (JAG) accreditation and will come into the programme in time. The units accredited to date are St. Vincent’s University Hospital; St. James’ Hospital; Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown; Louth County Hospital; Sligo General Hospital; Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore; Ennis General Hospital; Mercy Hospital, Cork and Wexford Hospital.
The NCSS continues to work closely with the remaining initially selected screening colonoscopy units to support them achieving accreditation. These are Cavan General Hospital; Kerry General Hospital, Tralee; Letterkenny General Hospital; Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar; South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel and Tallaght. The accredited screening colonoscopy units provide good geographic coverage and are appropriate for the invited population to date. The programme is being rolled-out on a phased basis and is providing screening colonoscopies as required.