Funding boost for bowel cancer tests

A $109,000 funding boost will allow 110 extra colonoscopy surgeries to be performed by MidCentral District Health Board in the coming months.

The funding is the latest in a range of recent government initiatives aimed at improving colonoscopy delivery and bowel cancer screening.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the boost would help MidCentral DHB deliver up to 110 extra colonoscopies for patients most in need.

"A colonoscopy can identify whether a person has cancer or pre-cancerous growths called polyps," he said. "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 health boards have traditionally been stretched to keep up with demand from a population that is both growing and ageing."

A symposium was held in Wellington on April 28 to discuss ways of increasing New Zealand's colonoscopy workforce capacity and efficiency.

"The single largest constraint to a national bowel cancer screening programme is work force - we simply don't have enough professionals to do the colonoscopies required," Ryall said. "This is not a new problem, but it's one that needs to be addressed before a national rollout can be considered."

A $24 million bowel screening pilot currently under way in the Waitemata DHB area has delivered more than 3200 colonoscopies in its first 21 months.

This pilot detected cancers in some patients that had no symptoms at all.

Manawatu Standard