A number of constituents have contacted me recently asking me to support the lowering of the bowel cancer screening age to 50.
Early diagnosis is of course critical to improving cancer survival. The UK National Screening Committee, which advises ministers and the NHS about all aspects of population screening, recommended faecal occult blood testing should be extended to those aged 50 to 74. I know the Government has already received Parliamentary Questions on this issue, and a related online petition has been signed by more than 274,000 people. I hope the Government considers this carefully when responding.
I believe investment in local screening programmes can make a real difference to the nation’s health. However, the Government has pushed ahead with short-sighted cuts to public health budgets without considering the impact on people’s health. This is a false economy and I believe the NHS and social care sector must be provided with the funding that is desperately needed.
I wrote to the Department of Health about this issue back in February and received the below response from David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health (the response has been edited to remove a constituent's personal details).