Phone calls to encourage bowel cancer screening first timers

NHS Help Us Help You icon. Screening saves lives

A new service to increase take up of bowel cancer screening will contact people who are being invited for the first-time in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington. Community Links will telephone invitees to encourage them to participate. The year-long service is led by North Central London Cancer Alliance, in collaboration with NHS North Central London Integrated Care Board and the five local authorities.

Trained health facilitators will call patients, on behalf of participating GPs, about three months before their first bowel screening invitation is due to be sent. They will provide patients with information about bowel screening, answer any questions they may have about screening and share details on how to complete the FIT (faecal immunochemical test) kit at home, and encourage them to participate.

If a patient’s first language is not English, Community Links can arrange for the patient to be contacted by a facilitator who speaks their preferred language.

Ali Malik, Managing Director of North Central London Cancer Alliance, said: “We’re introducing the phone calls to prime people and reassure them about bowel cancer screening. If you haven’t had any type of screening before it may seem daunting, but cancer screening is so important for checking your health before you have any symptoms. Using the FIT kit at home in your own bathroom is quick and simple. The vast majority of tests will have the ‘all clear’, but if this isn’t the case, early diagnosis could save your life as successful treatment is much more likely.” 

Community Links has previously undertaken similar work in North Central London for the breast and bowel screening programmes.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer. Screening can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage when it is easier to treat. The FIT (faecal immunochemical test) for bowel screening is posted to home addresses. It is quick and simple to complete.

Everyone aged 54 to 74 years who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit every two years. People aged 50-52 will also start to receive bowel screening invitations this year. Find out more about bowel cancer screening at

Read Dick Carruthers’ screening story

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