Cheshire and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services have won a prestigious health award for their pioneering new scheme focusing on bowel cancer screening.
The two 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, give out 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, 15,935 Safe and Well visits have been carried out in Cheshire from February to June which resulted in 1098 referrals for bowel cancer screening.
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.
"Through collaboration with the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and other organisations, this initiative is an excellent example of the local system working together, for the benefit of the populations we serve.”
Experts from Cancer Research UK were responsible for giving the firefighters their training on the screening scheme.
Chair of the Fire Authority for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Cllr Bob Rudd added: “I’m delighted that this pioneering scheme has won this award. Getting the emergency services to work more closely together to try and avoid elderly people having to visit hospital or developing late stage bowel cancers is a brilliant use of limited resources.”