The best rates – of 3.6 per cent – were provided by NHS screening units, while the worst – of 9.3 per cent – were seen at independent providers being used by the health service.
The study found that women, those aged 80 and over and patients suffering inflammatory bowel disease were the most likely to receive a diagnosis of bowel cancer in the years after a colonoscopy with a negative result.
Researcher Roland Valori, Consultant Gastroenterologist from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are seeing unacceptable variation in post colonoscopy bowel cancers between providers in the English NHS and this variation in quality needs to be addressed urgently.”
The British Society of Gastroenterology say post-colonoscopy bowel cancers should be used as a benchmark for the quality of the testing service.
Lead author Dr Nick Burr, from the University of Leeds, said: “We need a targeted improvement programme to reduce this variation.”