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$3.5 million funding boost for colonoscopies

Health Minister Tony Ryall says up to $3.5 million is being allocated for extra colonoscopies – the latest announcement in the government’s drive to improve diagnostic services in New Zealand.

“This one-off boost will help DHBs deliver more than 3000 extra colonoscopies, prioritising patients most in need. Helping these patients will allow DHBs to position themselves to deliver even more, high quality colonoscopies in the future,” says Mr Ryall.

“A colonoscopy can identify whether a person has cancer or pre-cancerous growths called polyps. Being diagnosed with cancer can be traumatic, but we know that bowel cancers found and treated early can often be cured.

“However some waiting times for a colonoscopy are still not ideal as some DHBs have traditionally been stretched to keep up with demand from a population that is both growing and ageing.

“This is not a new challenge, but it is one that we are making good progress on. In the 2012/13 financial year, 41,000 colonoscopies were performed by DHBs – a 20 per cent increase on 2008/09. Prior to this, consistent data on colonoscopies was not recorded,” says Mr Ryall.

The funding boost is the latest in a range of recent government initiatives aimed at improving colonoscopy delivery.

This includes the $16 million faster diagnostics project that aims to improve access to a range of tests including colonoscopy, and the $1.8 million National Endoscopy Quality Improvement Programme.

A symposium will also be held later this month in Wellington to look at ways of increasing New Zealand’s colonoscopy workforce capacity and efficiency.

“Under this government, record numbers of New Zealanders are now receiving elective surgery and first specialist assessments. With our focus now moving to diagnostic procedures, I expect these services to also improve,” says Mr Ryall.

“This government is committed to improving outcomes for people with cancer, and ensuring they receive timely access to diagnostic procedures like colonoscopies is a big part of that,” says Mr Ryall.

Media contact: Bill de la Mare 021 924 331

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