Media Releases

Bowel screening programme roll-out

Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 12:31
Budget 2016

The roll-out of a national bowel screening programme is on track to begin in 2017, Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says.

Budget 2016 invests $39.3 million over four years for national bowel screening – starting with Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs. This will be followed by a progressive roll-out across the country.

Additional funding has also been set aside in contingency to enable the IT support needed for a national screening programme.

“Once fully implemented, the programme is expected to screen over 700,000 people every two years. We know that bowel screening saves lives by detecting cancers at an early stage when they can more easily be treated.

“Around 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. The Government is committed to better access to early detection and treatment.

“We have been working towards a national screening programme for some time. This investment builds on the successful Waitemata DHB bowel screening pilot, which has been running since 2012.

“The Government has also invested $15 million since 2013 to deliver more colonoscopies and reduce colonoscopy waiting times across the country. This has also helped to build capacity within the system,” Dr Coleman says.

A business case for the bowel screening roll-out will go to Cabinet shortly.

Once in place, DHBs will offer people aged 60 to 74 a bowel screening test every two years. More than 80 per cent of cancers found through the pilot were in those aged 60 to 74. Screening in this range will maximise the number of cancers found while minimising the cases where problems are not found.

In line with international best practice for adoption of screening programmes, a staged approach is planned. Information from the pilot and discussions with the sector have confirmed there will be a sufficient clinical workforce to deliver the additional colonoscopies required for a staged roll-out of a national programme.