Guernsey to start bowel cancer screening in 2011

Guernsey's health authorities plan to introduce a short-term bowel cancer screening programme.

The Health and Social Services Department said the service would be operational from October 2011 but its future depended on securing funding.

It said it made the move as it would take nine months to set up a screening service once funds had been agreed.

It follows public outcry over the States decision not to divert funds to such a programme from a museum project.

Abuse and questions

The vote in October opposed moving £250,000, the first of four annual payments, from the Culture and Leisure Department's project to improve the storage of heritage objects to a bowel cancer screening programme.

Since then the department's minister has received abuse and questions have also been asked as to why the money for a scheme could not be found within Health's budget of more than £100m.

The Health and Social Service Department said if it had waited for the outcome of the 2012 States Strategic Plan to learn whether funding had been granted, a screening service could not then start until late into 2012.

To fund the service in the short-term the department has found £50,000 from its budget, money it said would not be available for the programme in future years.

The board said it was aware this approach would rely on the States supporting its bid for £200,000 of funding in 2012, the amount needed to annually support the programme.

It said it would fully respect the wish of the States if it decided against funding the scheme and "is in no way attempting to undermine the integrity of the States Strategic Planning prioritisation process".

'Identified and removed'

The board said following the recent publicity it firmly believed such a bid was "likely to find enough support".

It added this was the most appropriate approach as it maintained the integrity of both the States Strategic Planning process and the States Budget setting process.

The Health Department said the screening process "does not necessarily eliminate the immediate onset of cancer, but can enable potential causes of bowel cancer to be identified and removed some years before they would have developed".

It said screening may also "enable identification of a cancer at an earlier stage than would otherwise be possible".

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