Political impasse is risking bowel patients’ lives: MLA

Mark H Durkan.
Mark H Durkan.

The failure to roll-out improved bowel cancer screening in the North due to the political hiatus at Stormont is risking lives, according to SDLP health spokesman Mark H. Durkan, who has branded the non-implemention a “disgrace”.

Cancer researchers have urged that Faecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT), which is more reliable, has higher participation rates, and is cheaper than Faecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT) - the current test used in the North - be made available here as soon as possible.

However, the papers recommending the adoption of the new testing currently sit on the unoccupied Health Minister’s desk at Stormont awaiting sign off.

Mr. Durkan said the continuing Stormont impasse has resulted in paralysis, poorer patient outcomes and people getting sicker.

“Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to beating bowel cancer. Delaying the implementation of advanced screening techniques will lead to people dying earlier, there are no two ways about it. It is a disgrace that the vacuum at Stormont, caused by a failure of politics, is putting lives at risk. People will not understand that.”