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Colonoscopy funding boost for Waikato

Waikato patients are set to benefit from a $3.5m national boost in funding for colonoscopies, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

“This boost will help Waikato DHB deliver up to 244 extra colonoscopies for patients most in need,” 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.

“Some waiting times for a colonoscopy are still not ideal as 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 the government is making good progress on. In the 2012/13 financial year, 41,000 colonoscopies were performed by DHBs nationally – 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 has just been held in Wellington to look at ways of increasing New Zealand’s colonoscopy workforce capacity and efficiency.

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

ENDS

Media contact: Bill de la Mare 021 924 331

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