9 Apr 2011

Bowel screening project will be a winner, says Guild

8:57 pm on 9 April 2011

The Pharmacy Guild says a private bowel cancer screening programme will ultimately save the Government money - through early detection of the disease.

The test, being sold through members of the Pharmacybrands group, was launched on Friday - and has already attracted criticism from health professionals.

The pharmacy-based test is designed for people over the age of 50 who do not have any obvious symptoms of bowel cancer.

The Ministry of Health and the Royal College of GPs have expressed concerns - including that it may lead to longer waiting times for diagnostic testing of patients with genuine symptoms of the disease.

A spokesperson for the Royal New Zealand College of GPs, Jim Vause, says he has questions about the quality of the programme, and fears over the harm that can be caused to patients through false negatives - or false positives.

"We don't know what planning has been done, what engagement there has been with the professionals. I don't think it's been before the Ministry of Health so it's a bit of an out of the blue job that superficially doesn't seem to be well planned," he said.

Dr Vause says the College of GPs would like some engagement with Pharmacybrands on the screening programme.