Thanks for this advice. It worked. I called the Endoscopy Dept at the hospital directly and was put through to the bowel screening office. In two 5-10 minute phone conversations I got the whole sorry story (or, perhaps, a very elaborate cover story).
Anyway, it turns out it's the Endoscopy Dept's fault. They are actively rolling out flex sig screening for everyone over 55 and neither the CCG nor the GP's are resisting this. They need background checks on the patients though, so the referral process is via GP's. The GP's have to be connected to the departmental admin system practice by practice. To avoid being overwhelmed Endoscopy have taken a cautious approach to the speed at which the programme is rolled out. So far they're up to 30% (not sure if that's 30% of patients or 30% of GP practices) with all the practices in central Oxford done, a handful just north of the city and, on its own it seems, Chalgrove. My area is scheduled to go live early next year. The rollout is scheduled to complete over the whole county in August 2018.
I said that all sounded plausible but what was the point then of the press articles ? They are entirely about encouraging more take-up which would make no sense at all if there was currently no spare capacity. The guy on the phone simply apologised that they had stirred the press up too soon. He said they really should have waited until the end of this year or early next. There had been quite a few phone calls like mine and he was just very sorry that they weren't ready for me yet. Reading the article again it seems that the take-up among the 30% who are already live has been disappointing (only about 50%). I guess the department wanted to try to fix this low take-up with a public frightener and appeal. But instead they've frightened everyone, 70% of whom then discover that not only is there a problem they should be really scared about but, worse still, the NHS isn't in a position (yet) to help them with it.
So, cock-up rather than conspiracy. I'm still having the conversation with my GP though and when I do I want to get him to promise me a referral for next spring. If the rollout goes as planned then that will be automatic. If it doesn't then I won't be side-lined into the poo sticks programme when I pass 60 (Sept 2018).