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More colonoscopies delivered, wait times reduce

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman

Minister of Health

10 September 2015

More colonoscopies delivered, wait times reduce

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says new data shows more people are receiving colonoscopies, and good progress is being made in reducing waiting times.

“A colonoscopy can identify whether a person has cancer or pre-cancerous growths. Early identification and treatment can save lives,” says Dr Coleman.

“The number of colonoscopies performed in the 2014/15 financial year rose by 12 per cent from the previous year - up from 32,324 to 36,076.

“The percentage of urgent colonoscopies being performed within the 14 day target increased from 55.2 per cent in June 2014 to 74.8 per cent in June 2015.

“This improvement shows that real progress is being made. National averages for non-urgent and surveillance colonoscopy have also improved.

“There are projects underway in DHBs to improve consistency and to increase colonoscopy volumes and capacity, including shared triaging of referrals across a region.”

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

There are a number of initiatives underway to strengthen the endoscopy workforce including increasing the number of gastroenterology trainees and increasing the use of CT colonoscopy where clinically appropriate.

To inform the next steps towards a possible roll out of a national bowel screening programme, the Ministry of Health is consulting with the sector on how the service could be provided across DHBs. A business case is expected to be taken to Cabinet by the end of the year.

More than 6,000 people have received a colonoscopy through the Waitemata DHB bowel screening pilot since 2012. Budget 2015 invested $12.4 million to extend the pilot to December 2017.

ENDS

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