Colonoscopy wait times continue to drop

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 10:45

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says progress continues to be made to reduce the wait time for a colonoscopy, as DHBs prepare for the roll-out of the national bowel screening programme.

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

“The latest data shows 3,850 patients received a colonoscopy in August 2016 – that’s an increase of 45 per cent compared to 2,649 colonoscopies carried out in July 2013.

“This has helped to reduce the number of patients waiting longer than recommended for a colonoscopy, which in August 2016 was down 65 per cent compared to July 2013.  92 per cent of urgent cases were carried out within 14 days - compared to 51 per cent in July 2013.

“This provides a solid foundation which DHBs will continue to build on as we progress the roll-out of the national bowel screening programme.

“Once fully implemented, the national screening 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.”

The Government has invested $15 million since 2013 to deliver more colonoscopies and reduce colonoscopy waiting times.

Budget 2016 invests $39.3 million for the bowel screening programme, starting with Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs in 2017, followed by a progressive roll-out across the country.

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