Northern Ireland is using software developed in Wales to extend its bowel cancer screening programme.

Northern Ireland has been using the Bowel Screening Information Management System, originally developed by the NHS Wales Informatics Service, for one year. In that time, 40,000 people have been screened.

Screening has been available to people aged 60 to 69. It is now being extended to people aged 71.

Dr Tracey Owen, lead consultant of the Bowel Screening Programme, said: “The system is providing us with an excellent mechanism for managing the screening programme in Northern Ireland, which is benefitting the participating population.”

BSIMS is a secure web application used to identify and invite people for a bowel screening.

Each person is provided with a screening kit, which can be used at home and posted back to a laboratory. The software tracks their response and keeps a record of their results.

The Public Health Agency highlights the importance of the screening and the need for people eligible for the programme to take advantage of it. The bowel screening programme aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective.

Northern Ireland plans to use BSIMS to extend the age range of people eligible for screening even further. By 2015, bowel cancer screening will be available to everybody between the ages of 50 and 74.