Ceredigion farming community pilots NHS bowel campaign

The farming community in Ceredigion has been chosen to pilot an NHS health project to raise awareness of bowel cancer and bowel screening.

Farmers, their families and employees are being encouraged to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and to take advantage of free bowel screening if they are aged 60 and above.

The awareness raising campaign is the result of a unique partnership between the Screening Division of Public Health Wales (PHW) and the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW).

The FUW has agreed to help raise awareness of the NHS bowel screening programme, as part of a pilot project with the Screening Engagement Department of PHW. If successful in Ceredigion, the project will be rolled out to other areas of Wales.

The pilot will include a bowel screening awareness presentation at the Ceredigion FUW County Meeting in Aberaeron on April 10. This meeting will also be open to family and farm employees who may wish to find out more about bowel cancer and bowel screening.

Following the meeting, every member of Ceredigion FUW will receive information about bowel screening with their next county newsletter. Information stands will also be held at a selection of agricultural marts and shows across the county.

Alison Clement, PHW screening engagement specialist, commented: “We are delighted to have the support of the FUW to raise awareness of bowel cancer and bowel screening, not only to the farmers themselves, but also to their families and employees.

“Bowel screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer and is offered every two years to men and women aged 60-74. A test kit is sent to peoples’ homes, without the need to travel to a hospital or GP surgery.

“Uptake of bowel screening fell in the early years of the programme, but is now rising. While this is very encouraging, there are still many people who could benefit from screening who are not taking advantage of the opportunity, when it is offered to them.”

She added: “Although bowel cancer is more common in older people, any age can be affected, so it is very important to be able to recognise the symptoms of bowel cancer, and how to reduce your risk.”

FUW president Emyr Jones said the union was keen to work with PHW to raise awareness of the importance of bowel testing and screening within the farming community.

“Barriers to accessing and prioritising healthcare do exist in the countryside,” he said. “These barriers include the isolation of farms; seasonal farming commitments during lambing and harvesting; poor support systems such as lack of family, neighbours or communities; farmers prioritising the health and welfare of livestock; and transport links in attending screening and other medical appointments.

“The aim of this partnership project should help encourage regular participation in the screening programme amongst farmers, their families, employees and the wider farming community.”

Mr Jones added: “Initially, the project will just concentrate on bowel screening but, if successful, a similar package may be rolled out for other health screening programmes, such as abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, breast screening and cervical screening.”

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