The number of publicly-funded surveillance colonoscopies performed in the Bay is expected to be increased by more than 50 per cent over the coming year, in what is described as a bold and ambitious plan.
“We currently deliver around 200 colonoscopies a month,” says Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief operating officer Pete Chandler.
“Over the coming year we are aiming to deliver over 100 additional colonoscopies a month on top of those. That's a 50 per cent increase month-on-month for the next 12 months.”
The additional procedures will be carried out through extra weekday and weekend sessions at Tauranga Hospital, Whakatane Hospital and some private facilities including Grace Hospital.
“It's a bold and ambitious plan,” says Pete.
“We have just had our best ever Emergency Department performance, we're on track to meet the new cancer targets this year, and so we've been looking at other areas where our performance needs specific improvement focus to best support the communities we serve.”
Surveillance colonoscopy performance is an area where the DHB was previously been challenged by the level of need, and this move was aimed at addressing that.
“We have one of the highest rates of colonoscopy referral in New Zealand,” says Pete.
“I'm happy to say we have now recruited additional gastroenterologists and have a great, expanded, team in place. We've just opened our third endoscopy procedure room and have also put a programme of improvements in place which is already showing results.
“As a consequence the percentage of urgent diagnostic colonoscopies treated within 14 days has risen to 85 per cent from 40 per cent over the last 12 months.”