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Consultation on next steps for bowel screening programme

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Government will be consulting with the health sector to inform the next steps towards the potential roll out of a national bowel screening programme.

“Delivering better cancer services is a top priority for the Government bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in New Zealand,” says Dr Coleman.

“To inform the next steps towards a possible roll out of a national bowel screening programme, the Ministry of Health will be consulting with the health sector and other agencies on how the service could be provided across the DHBs.

“I expect to take a business case to Cabinet by the end of the year which will consider a potential staged roll out of a national bowel screening programme from early 2017.”

More than 6,000 people have received a colonoscopy through the Waitemata DHB bowel screening pilot since January 2012.

Early evaluation results are positive, and it is providing valuable information for a potential national roll-out of the programme.

The largest constraint to a national bowel screening programme is having the workforce to do the colonoscopies. There are a number of initiatives underway to address this.

An additional $8 million was provided in Budget 2014, on top of $3.4 million in Budget 2013, to help DHBs deliver more colonoscopies.

Initiatives to strengthen the endoscopy workforce include increasing the number of gastroenterology trainees.The sector is also considering increasing the use of CT colonography where appropriate.

Latest figures show that significantly more people are receiving publicly funded colonoscopies, and waiting lists are dropping.

Over 35,800 people received a colonoscopy last year, up from over 29,000 in 2013 – an increase of more than 20 per cent. For the year ending April 2015, the number of people waiting for a colonoscopy dropped by over 30 per cent.

Budget 2015 invested $12.4 million to extend the Waitemata DHB bowel cancer screening pilot to December 2017.
Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372

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