Colonoscopy referral system now available for GPs

13 May 2020

GPs throughout the Southern District Health Board zone – from south of the Waitaki River – are being urged to make use of the Southland Charity Hospital’s referral system for diagnostic colonoscopy services.

The news comes shortly after New Zealand Cancer Society medical director, Dr Christopher Jackson, told the Epidemic Response Committee that 400 Kiwis may lose their lives due to the lack of diagnostic testing during Levels 3 and 4 of New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown.

“That is predictable, that is measurable, that is identifiable, that is foreseeable and is something we can and we must avoid.”

Dr Jackson said based on UK research, it was predicted if there was a three-month average delay in diagnosis and management of cancer, 400 lives would be lost in New Zealand.

“There are cancer types such as oesophageal, gastric cancer, liver, pancreas and colon cancer where delays in the management of cancer do result in measurable and immediate reductions in survival. If we don’t do these colonoscopies, endoscopies, biopsies and scans, lives will be lost,” Jackson told the committee.

However, the Southland Charity Hospital has collaborated with Southern Cross to access its Invercargill-based hospital to provide colonoscopies to those that meet the SCH criteria almost immediately. Medical staff will volunteer their time and expertise to perform the colonoscopy procedure for patients, while Southern Cross has agreed to donate its facilities to the cause.

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