The national target for bowel screening is 60%, and while screening rates in west London have increased in recent years, most areas in our geography still do not consistently reach this target.

Studies have found that contacting people who are eligible for screening by telephone to provide information about bowel screening, and answer any questions they may have, can help to increase participation.

In 2018/19, RM Partners commissioned a multilingual call reminder service to contact patients who had been invited to take part but not completed and returned their bowel screening kit. This proved successful and increased the number of those participating.

The project was recently changed to focus on contacting those people approaching their 60th birthday and who were due to be invited to their first screen. Three attempts are made to contact patients at different times of the day and week. The call reminder service explains the screening programme, the importance of participating, and how the screen is undertaken.

The age range to participate in national bowel cancer screening is being extended to include people aged 50 years and above, starting with those who are 56 years of age. The call reminder service will also contact this group of patients.

We are working with the Bowel Cancer Screening Hub and three screening centres in west London to review whether this call reminder project can be extended to people who have not responded to the invitation to complete their screen.

Please contact Claire Barry, claire.barry@nhs.net for more information about the project.

For information on bowel screening: www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/