New $12 Million Blitz To Fast-Track Colonoscopies

31 March 2018

Victorian patients in urgent need of colonoscopies will receive them sooner following a funding boost from the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced a $12 million injection into Victorian hospitals to fast-track access and cut waiting times for colonoscopy procedures.

The colonoscopy blitz will provide colonoscopies for 6,635 of the patients across Victoria who are in the most urgent category and who have been waiting the longest.

Faster access to colonoscopies will deliver better patient outcomes, with patients able to get a quicker diagnosis and the treatment they need sooner to fight bowel cancer.

Ninety per cent of bowel cancer is curable if it is found and treated early, before it has had the chance to spread.

Demand for colonoscopies is rising sharply across Australia due to an ageing population and increased screening from the Commonwealth’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program putting pressure on our hospitals.

Victorian public hospitals have experienced a 23 per cent increase in demand for colonoscopies between 2014-15 and 2016-17, when more than 54,000 colonoscopies were performed in Victorian public hospitals.

By 2020, all Australians aged 50-74 will be invited by the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to screen every two years. This means the number of Victorian colonoscopies from this program will more than double.

Despite the Labor Government taking action for Victorian patients, the Turnbull Government has failed to provide any funding to meet this soaring demand.

In fact, Malcolm Turnbull continues to owe Victorians $104 million – the equivalent of 57,503 colonoscopy procedures – which he refuses to pay. This blow is in addition to his intentions to short-change Victorian hospitals to the tune of $2.1 billion – which will only further put Victorian patients at risk.

In 2016, 3,863 Victorians were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 1,372 died from the disease. It is the second most common cause of death to cancer.

From 1 July 2018, the new Colonoscopy Guidelines for Victorian Patients will come into force, with a target to ensure all Victorian patients in urgent need of colonoscopies receive them within 30 days.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“People at risk of bowel cancer are waiting too long for a colonoscopy due to Malcom Turnbull’s cuts and inaction.”

“While Malcolm Turnbull sits on his hands, we’re delivering crucial funding so the most urgent patients get the care they need sooner.”

“This colonoscopy procedure blitz will get patients off the waiting list and diagnosed sooner right across Victoria.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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