Bowel Cancer UK tackles DoH delay

Bowel Cancer UK is stepping up its pressure on the Government to honour its pledge of a national screening programme for the disease.

Press, PR and public affairs director Ian Beaumont said the charity planned to meet with the Department of Health and 'clarify what happens next' after the DoH last week admitted that the programme was being delayed.

The charity received a tip off in December that the NHS cash crisis would hold up the £37m programme, and it has spent three months drumming up support from 130 MPs and Peers. It has also secured coverage in both the broadsheet and tabloid press.

Beaumont wrote to Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt in December, asking for confirmation that the programme was still on track for the April launch promised by the DoH in October 2004.

But in the last two weeks Bowel Cancer UK has been told by the DoH that although the programme will go ahead, no screening testing kits have been ordered, only one laboratory (or hub) is ready to process the screening kits and that the other hubs will not be set up until March 2007.

The charity will still launch its Sit Down On It fundraising and awareness campaign on 7 April (PR Week, 25 Nov 2005), which was originally planned to coincide with the roll out of the screening programme.

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