David Clark, minister of Health needs to get involved in the Southland DHB and their decision to get yet another report on their appalling cancer treatment record.
Lives could be lost to bowel cancer, if the Southern District Health Board doesn’t act immediately on a damning report released last week.
The DHB intends to commission a further report, but experts in bowel cancer are shocked at the decision, saying it’s playing for time and inexcusable to continue denying people tests they desperately need.
Dawn Birse, 67, was denied a publicly funded colonoscopy by the southern DHB despite five urgent requests from her GP after almost five years of acute illness.
So she was forced to pay for the diagnoses herself.
“We just decided we needed to go private because I knew something wasn’t right and I was starting to get upset about all the bleeding that was happening because it wasn’t normal,” she says.
Subsequently an 18cm tumour was found and had to be removed urgently.
Statistics gathered by Dr Phil Bagshaw in his damning report show the region has the highest rates of bowel cancer in the country but the lowest rates of colonoscopies.
“They’ve lost the battle against bowel cancer, there’s no question about that. The most worrying finding is we saw a lot of very advanced disease,” he says.
The Southern DHB said in a statement ensuring the most appropriate people receive a colonoscopy at the right time is of critical importance, and concerns about the management of some cases has led to them to commission a review.
But Dr Bagshaw says they are just playing for time. Bowel Cancer NZ spokesperson and colorectal surgeon Frank Frizelle is concerned a second review could take a year to complete.
“Surely when you’ve got complaints from patients you’ve got complaints from medical staff and you’ve got a report to say you’ve got a problem – you just might take it seriously and do something about it,” he says.
Mrs Birse, who is paying off the $4,000 she paid for her lifesaving colonoscopy, says she is living proof there needs to be immediate action.