In February 2018 Health Minister Hon. Dr David Clark initiated an independent review of the National Bowel Screening Programme after it was found some people did not receive invitations for screening during the pilot phase of the programme that ran from 2011 to 2017.
Issues associated with the Bowel Screening Pilot Information Technology System (BSP) and operational processes meant some eligible participants were not invited/re-invited for screening. For some people this may have led to a delay in their bowel cancer diagnosis.
The review will consider how well positioned the National Bowel Screening Programme is for successful delivery, the robustness of the invitation process, and how lessons learnt can be applied to ensure a safe and successful roll out of the national programme. It will look at a broad range of factors, including information technology, district health board (DHB) capacity, operational management and clinical matters.
The review is being carried out by an expert panel, led by Professor Gregor Coster, with members Dr William Rainger, Dr Mary Seddon, and Professor Graeme Young. The Health Quality & Safety Commission is providing project management and secretariat support to the review team.
The review team will consider relevant documentation held by the Ministry of Health and DHBs relating to the pilot and the programme; will interview former and current Ministry and DHB staff; and will talk with representatives of other government agencies as necessary.
It will not undertake a clinical review of the evidence for the introduction of a population-based bowel screening programme, as this has already been evidenced both in New Zealand and internationally.
The review began on 21 March 2018 and the final report will be provided to the acting Director-General of Health by 29 June 2018. It will set out evidence-based findings, along with recommended actions or improvements. The Acting Director-General of Health will consider the findings and the Ministry will develop an action plan for implementation, as part of the on-going roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme.
The final report will be released by the Minister of Health on a date to be confirmed.