The government appears to blame staff training problems rather than budgetary constraints for what it describes as the 'extremely modest' delay in starting its bowel cancer screening programme.
Lord Warner, a government minister in the Lords said last week that 'the national bowel cancer screening programme was started in April 2006, as promised. Funding for 2006—07 is being transferred to the national cancer screening team in Sheffield. The kit supplier has been notified that the first order is for 100,000 kits. The first invitations to take tests should be sent out in July.'
Pressed by Baroness Hayman, he went on: 'the delay in starting the programme was extremely modest and has had no significant effect on the outcomes for individuals who take the test. We estimate that around £10 million will be spent on the first yearâ€”2006—07â€”of the national bowel cancer screening programme. My noble friend will know that funding decisions have not yet been made for future years. However, we are committed to ensuring that the necessary funding is available to see through the implementation of the programme. It has always been the case that this programme would take three years to roll out fully.'
Baroness Gardner of Parkes pointed out that 100,000 kits was a very small number compared to the number of people who would benefit from screening.
Lord Warner replied: 'I hope that there will be no delays. We have done what is necessary to get the scheme going. There are constraints on expanding the scheme, largely to do with training staff to operate the new procedures.
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