Health Minister Dr David Clark says the independent review of the National Bowel Screening Programme should give the public confidence in the safety and value of the programme.
The report of the review, led by Professor Gregor Coster, was released today. It endorses the ongoing roll-out of the NBSP while at the same time making a number of wide-ranging recommendations to support its continued improvement.
David Clark has welcomed the report. He says its recommendations will help ensure that the Bowel Screening Programme is both safe and effective.
“We know that screening programmes save lives. This review confirms that despite some issues with the pilot programme, over all it performed well. It also found that the national roll-out of bowel screening is progressing well.”
The report made a series of recommendations, which have been accepted by the Ministry of Health, including:
• Strengthened project management and reviewing IT governance
• Greater clinical oversight and refining the governance of the programme
• A workforce development plan
• A greater focus on equity of outcomes, including increased engagement with Māori and Pacific peoples
• Building stronger relationships with DHBs and external organisations such as Bowel Cancer NZ and Hei Āhuru Mōwai (Māori Cancer Leadership Group)
“It is important to note that the Ministry of Health has work ongoing to ensure that everything possible is being done to avoid a repeat of the issues identified earlier in the year involving thousands of people missing out on invitations to take part in bowel screening,” says David Clark.
“No one should underestimate the scale and complexity of introducing such a large national screening programme while at the same time developing a dedicated IT system to identify, track and monitor programme participants.
“It is important that we get this right. Once the National Bowel Screening Programme is fully implemented it is estimated that as many as 500-700 cancers each year will be detected early. This report provides timely recommendations to help make this a reality,” says David Clark.
NOTE: The Ministry has committed to implementing the recommendations of the independent review. It will publish the actions it will take early next year and will report on progress a year later.
Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand.
More than 3000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and more than 1200 die from the disease.
Bowel screening detects cancers at an earlier stage where they can often be more successfully treated.
The National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP):
The National Bowel Screening Programme is being rolled out progressively throughout New Zealand.
Once fully implemented it will offer free screening to all eligible New Zealanders aged 60-74 years.
Waitemata, Counties Manukau, Hutt Valley, Wairarapa and Southern DHBs now offer free screening.
The remaining DHBs will progressively join the NBSP which is expected to be fully implemented by the end of the 2020/21 financial year.
Once fully implemented the NBSP will invite 700,000 New Zealanders to participate in bowel screening every two years.
Approximately 500-700 cancers each year are expected to be detected initially once the programme is fully rolled out.
Screening is for people who do not have symptoms of bowel cancer. Anyone with symptoms should see their doctor.