The Cheshire and Merseyside Endoscopy Network, supported by the Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance, has recently delivered accelerated accreditation of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) to clinicians, due to the significant backlog of invitations that needed to be issued post COVID.
Delivering this programme in a shorter space of time will provide a significant boost to the local workforce and will allow clinicians to undertake more screening appointments, which will help with faster diagnosis and better chances of recovery for local people.
Dr Neil Haslam, Joint Clinical Lead for the Cheshire and Merseyside Endoscopy Network, said:
“Cheshire and Merseyside along with the rest of the North West was particularly badly hit by the COVID pandemic and when we were looking at our recovery out of the last wave, it became apparent that workforce was one of our key restraints in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.”
“Due to an ageing colposcopy workforce, the UK National Screening Committee recommendation of a reduction of age eligibility for bowel screening to 50 and considerations being made nationally about FIT sensitivity thresholds, we calculated that we would need to have double the number of colonoscopists over the next five years.”
Investment into the future development of the workforce was needed and by working collaboratively with other programmes across the country, the Cheshire and Merseyside Endoscopy Network was able to establish a project group and make an approach to the accrediting authority for a new local process. This included webinars, local assessment, and assessors travelling around the Network to support candidates.
Karen Lloyd, Senior Programme Manager for the Cheshire and Merseyside Endoscopy Network, said:
“Currently, eleven additional clinicians have been accredited using this new process with a further four undertaking assessments in the coming weeks. This will provide a significant boost to the pool of clinicians available to undertake BCSP lists and reduce the time to diagnosis. This has been proposed as a potential model on a national basis going forward.”
Dr Neil Haslam, Joint Clinical Lead for the Cheshire and Merseyside Endoscopy Network, added:
“We were also able to train up some of our experienced screeners to be assessors. This is a great resource for the country as we can run accreditation days from Liverpool for both Cheshire and Merseyside and the rest of England.”
Following the success of the project in the subregion, the Cheshire and Merseyside Endoscopy Network is in discussions with Lancashire, South Cumbria and Greater Manchester about running similar courses for bowel cancer screening programmes.