Labour will release policy next month on a move to expand a
bowel cancer screening pilot, the party's health spokeswoman
Annette King confirmed yesterday.
The Government's four-year pilot screening programme in
Waitemata, Auckland, detected cancer in more than 129 people
in its first 21 months.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said a decision on whether to
introduce a national screening programme would not be made
until the pilot was finished and evaluated.
This has been criticised by patient advocacy group Beat Bowel
Cancer Aotearoa, which says the timeframe is much too slow.
When contacted, Ms King declined to give details, saying that
would pre-empt the announcement.
''We're looking at a staged roll-out across New Zealand.''
Otago would see an early introduction because of its high
rate of bowel cancer, she said.
Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa said in a press release last week
New Zealanders would die while the Government ''continues to
dither'' on whether to introduce a national screening
Otago and Southland have the world's highest incidence of
bowel cancer, the second-most common cancer in New Zealand.
Mr Ryall, in a press release last week, suggested workforce
capacity had to be built before a nationwide programme could
''One of the big constraints is the workforce to do the
colonoscopies, but there is a lot of work going on in this
area,'' he said.
''Already the Government has invested $1.8 million over two
years for the national roll-out of a programme to improve
''We are also providing more money to DHBs to help reduce the
backlog of colonoscopies and improve waiting times.''
Results of the first 21 months of the screening pilot
(January 2012 to September 2013) showed more than 58,600
people completed a bowel screening test kit, and more than
3200 went on to have a colonoscopy.
Mr Ryall said many of those found to have cancer, more than
129 had no symptoms.
''This shows the screening pilot is detecting cancers at an
earlier stage than you would expect in a normal clinical
setting, where people visit their doctor because something is
not quite right.''