Fire and Rescue Services win health
award for bowel cancer screening scheme
MERSEYSIDE Fire and Rescue Service and
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have won a prestigious health award for their
pioneering new scheme focusing on bowel cancer screening.
The 2 services' Safe and Well visits have won a Healthcare Transformation Award
in the category of Improving Cancer Outcomes, alongside their partners Public
Health England, NHS England (Cheshire and Merseyside) and Cancer Research UK.
Firefighters from the two services have regularly visited the homes of
vulnerable people over 65 to give advice on fire safety for a number of years.
But, since February this year, both services have partnered with the NHS to
provide some health advice as well to try and reduce the number of emergency
visits to Hospital.
Crews, and specially trained fire advocates, issue advice on how to avoid a trip
or fall in the home, who to contact if people want to stop smoking or drinking
and, crucially, advice on bowel cancer screening.
As a result, Safe and Well visits carried out by Merseyside Fire and Rescue
Service generate around 120 referrals for bowel cancer screening each month.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service carried out 15,935 Safe and Well visits in
Cheshire from February to June this year which resulted in 1,098 bowel cancer
Phil Byrne, Station Manager at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said:-
"Fire and rescue services have a unique ability to access homes of vulnerable
people and we are pleased to be including such a worthwhile project as part of
our home safety engagement work. The feedback from staff conducting Safe and
Well visits, and the positive results, show the benefits of face to face
communication. Our staff have had the opportunity to explain to clients in their
home the benefits of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme and ensure the correct
and appropriate screening kits are sent out directly from the Bowel Cancer
Screening Hub in Rugby. In our 1st month we completed 574 Safe and Well visits
generating 129 requests for screening kits. This partnership work with NHS
England and Cancer Research UK will no doubt improve uptake in the screening
programme and emphasise the value that the fire and rescue Services bring to the
safety and wellbeing of our communities."
Julie Kelly, Head of Public Health NHS England North, Cheshire and Merseyside,
said:- "Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk
of dying from bowel cancer by 16%.
Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more
likely to be effective. This initiative is an excellent example of local
organisations working together for the benefit of the populations we serve."
Experts from Cancer Research UK were responsible for giving fire service staff
their training on the screening scheme.
Anna Murray, Primary Care Engagement Facilitator at Cancer Research, said:-
"Although bowel cancer screening has been a National Screening Programme
since 2006, the percentage of people who take part remains low compared to
breast and cervical screening.
It has been a pleasure to work with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that fire service personnel receive
appropriate training to be able to deliver this innovative scheme. Any work that
aims to increase early diagnosis and prevention of cancer in the population
should be commended."