Bupa UK Insurance has partnered with Cromwell Hospital and HCA Healthcare UK to launch new Specialist Centres for Bowel Cancer, giving patients fast access to diagnostic tests and if required onward care.

The Specialist Centres offer Bupa health insurance customers market-leading speed of access from diagnostics to treatment. They also ensure the patient journey is as smooth as possible by offering all initial cancer tests under one roof.

The first three centres have opened at London Bridge Hospital and The Wellington Hospital, both part of HCA Healthcare UK and Bupa’s Cromwell Hospital. There are plans to further extend the network later this year.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK, with 43,000 people diagnosed each year. Despite this, findings from the new Bupa Wellbeing Index show there are significant levels of confusion and embarrassment surrounding the disease and over a third (35%) of UK adults don’t know the warning signs.

This is a contributing factor to people being diagnosed with bowel cancer at a much later stage when it’s harder to treat. A recent study found that a third of UK cancer patients are now first diagnosed after going to A&E with severe symptoms.

To speed up access to cancer tests and treatment, Bupa customers who are worried about symptoms can call its Cancer Direct Access service to be referred to the new Specialist Centres for bowel cancer, usually without needing to see a GP. There they can have all initial diagnostic tests and scans in the same appointment for a diagnosis and if it is not cancer, be given the all clear on the same day.

If treatment is needed, it will start within 31 days of calling Bupa – twice as fast as national targets. Patients using the Specialist Centres will have their treatment planned by a multidisciplinary team of oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, and cancer nurse specialists. They will also have access to clinical trials and genetic testing if appropriate.

Alex Perry, CEO of Bupa UK Insurance said: “Even a four-week delay in cancer treatment can significantly impact health outcomes, and we know that early diagnosis saves lives. Our network of Specialist Centres for breast cancer launched in 2019 have already helped thousands of patients to get the all-clear, or a diagnosis and access to treatment very quickly.

“We’re pleased to be launching our Specialist Centres for bowel cancer with the Cromwell Hospital and HCA Healthcare UK, so that customers who are worried about possible symptoms of bowel cancer can quickly access clinical experts and the very best care from diagnosis through to treatment.”

Phil Luce, Hospital Director at Cromwell Hospital said: “Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK but treatment is much more effective when it’s detected early. Through the Specialist Centres we want to help diagnose more cancers earlier so patients are given the treatment they need as soon as possible, helping us save even more lives.”

John Reay, President & CEO at HCA Healthcare UK said: “Experiencing symptoms of cancer is an incredibly worrying time, and an early diagnosis is vital to improving long-term survival. An early cancer diagnosis provides a wider range of treatment options, and often improved treatment outcomes and quality of life. Partnering with Bupa to launch Specialist Centres for bowel cancer means that more people will be able to access our rapid diagnostic services, and if required the highest standard of person-centred care, from our expert multidisciplinary teams, including the latest innovative treatments and importantly, emotional and physical support therapies. This partnership reflects our market-leading cancer care and our commitment to robust quality and governance frameworks.”

Key features of the Specialist Centres for bowel cancer include:

  • One appointment for all initial diagnostics under one roof within four working days of calling Bupa, giving customers peace of mind or fast access to treatment.
  • Treatment begins within 31 days of first calling Bupa, which is twice as fast as national targets. Customers can also access clinical trials and genetic testing, if appropriate.
  • Emotional and wellbeing support from counsellors and nurses, and access to Bupa’s Live Well with Cancer and enhanced recovery programmes.