Bowel Cancer New Zealand is alarmed at the rising number of people affected by the
screening error now estimated at 15,000 Waitemata residents. Following OIA requests by
journalists, the patient-led charity raised concerns in March about 10,500 people the Ministry
had apparently not invited for screening. This figure has now risen to 15,000 including 2,500
who have since been tracked down.
Bowel Cancer New Zealand (BCNZ) spokesperson Mary Bradley says, “It is now more
imperative than ever the Ministry of Health’s review is thorough and transparent. The New
Zealand public has a right to know what measures were taken to correct the address error
and what will be done to prevent this from happening in the future.“
The charity continues to support a nationwide bowel screening rollout as New Zealand
cannot afford any more delays with 1,200 people dying each year. Recommendations from
the review will need to be implemented immediately to ensure there are no further errors.
Bradley says, “Let’s be clear, we will already be waiting four years until 2021 for the last five
DHBs to get screening. It’s time for the Ministry to be much more transparent and to listen to
peoples’ concerns – journalists should not be needing to make repeated OIA requests
before the Ministry explains what has occurred.”
BCNZ questions why people in the target age range in screening areas cannot self-refer to
the screening programme – rather than relying on people having up-to-date addresses
registered with GPs or public hospitals. BCNZ is concerned that all eligible New Zealanders
have access to screening – and that includes groups who can face barriers to accessing
GPs, such as people on low incomes and Māori and Pacific New Zealanders.
BCNZ encourages open discussion about any bowel cancer symptoms with health
professionals. Symptoms include:
• Bleeding from the bottom or seeing blood in the toilet after a bowel motion;
• Change of bowel motions over several weeks without returning to normal;
• Persistent or periodic severe pain the abdomen;
• A lump or mass in the abdomen;
• Tiredness and loss of weight for no particular reason;
Those who don’t live in DHB screening areas or have symptoms or a family history of bowel
cancer and want to do regular checks can talk to their GP or buy a commercially available
bowel screening kit, which involves the family doctor, at Life or Unichem pharmacies.
More information on bowel cancer and BCNZ can be found at
For further information:
Mary Bradley, Communications Manager
Bowel Cancer New Zealand (BCNZ)
+64 21 027 51924
About Bowel Cancer New Zealand
• Bowel Cancer New Zealand (BCNZ) is a patient and family-led charity organisation.
• The registered charity was founded in 2010 by a group of people affected by bowel
cancer, committed to improving bowel cancer awareness and outcomes for people
with the disease.
• BCNZ aims to provide clear and up-to-date information about the disease,
symptoms, what to do if diagnosed and to support patients and families affected by
• The ultimate aim of BCNZ is to prevent lives being lost to this disease and to promote
the national screening program rollout in New Zealand.