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20/09/2021

Derry MLA calls for life saving bowel cancer test to be made available here

Mark H Durkan
A Derry MLA, has called for the implementation of the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) into bowel cancer screening in Northern Ireland. SDLP Health Spokesperson, Mark H Durkan has expressed concerns that this life-saving test will soon be introduced in England, Scotland and Wales whilst the health service in Northern Ireland are yet to commit to the programme. Mr Durkan said: “I find it extremely worrying that the Department of Health have not yet committed to introducing the FIT into bowel cancer screening here in Northern Ireland. I have received correspondence from CEO of Bowel Cancer UK, Deborah Alsina MBE, who shares my concerns on the delay of this programme. “It has been two years since the UK National Screening Committee recommended the use of this life-saving test and considering that bowel cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers here, the Department’s oversight on this issue is unacceptable. “We know that if detected early, this disease is both treatable and curable. As screening is the best way to get diagnosed early, committing to FIT, which is significantly more accurate than the current programme, is just common sense. “I have written to the Permanent Secretary of Health, Richard Pengelly as a matter of urgency, to clarify the position and how the Department intends to progress on this vitally important issue. The earlier we can intervene on this issue, the more lives we can save. “This is yet another issue where health care provisions in Northern Ireland lag far behind its counterparts, in the absence of an Assembly. At the risk of repetition, the importance of a functioning Executive cannot be overstated – for many it is a case of life and death.”

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