About the National Bowel Screening Programme
The National Bowel Screening Programme is a free programme to help detect bowel cancer.
It is being offered every two years to men and women aged 60 to 74 years* who are eligible for publicly funded health care. Information on who is eligible for publicly funded health services is available on the Ministry of Health website or by phoning 0800 924 432.
If you are eligible to take part, you will be sent:
- an invitation letter
- a consent form
- a free bowel screening test kit, with instructions on how to use it.
The test can be done at home and is simple to do. Find out more at Doing the test.
You will be invited to take part in free bowel screening unless you tell us you don’t want to. You can opt out by calling freephone 0800 924 432.
* Waitemata DHB residents who are under the age of 60 years and were invited to take part in the bowel screening pilot (2012–17) will continue to be invited for screening every two years.
Staged roll-out underway
The introduction of a national bowel screening programme in New Zealand followed a successful 6-year pilot.
It’s being rolled out gradually across the country. This staged approach is designed to enable district health boards (DHBs) to prepare for the extra investigations and treatments that flow from a screening programme. It’s also to ensure that treatment for patients with symptoms is not held up because of the extra demands from screening.
Bowel screening timeline:
- 2012 - 6-year pilot began in Waitemata DHB
- July 2017 – The roll-out of the National Bowel Screening Programme began.
- 17 July 2017 - Hutt Valley and Wairarapa began screening
- 1 January 2018 - Waitematā joined the national programme
- 24 April 2018 - Southern commenced bowel screening
- 10 July 2018 - Counties Manukau joined
- 14 August 2018 - Nelson Marlborough joined
- 9 October 2018 - Hawke's Bay joined
- 19 February 2019 - Lakes joined
- 22 October 2019 - Whanganui joined
- 12 November 2019 - MidCentral joined
- 31 August 2020 - Tairāwhiti joined
The provisional start dates for the remaining ten DHBs are being rescheduled to enable health services to navigate the impact of COVID-19 and focus services on assisting those New Zealanders with the most urgent health needs.
New dates will be posted when available for the following DHBs: Canterbury, South Canterbury, Auckland, Capital and Coast, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Northland and West Coast.
Provisional dates may change. Each district health board must demonstrate its ability to deliver a clinically safe and effective bowel screening service before it joins the National Bowel Screening Programme.
Protecting your privacy
Information on any further assessment or treatment you may have will be collected from and disclosed to both public and private health services to assist in managing your health care, and to monitor and evaluate the National Bowel Screening Programme.
Personal information and data are collected, held, accessed and destroyed in accordance with the Health Information Privacy Code 1994 and the Health Act 1956.
If you want to make a complaint
The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights allows you to make a complaint in a way that is appropriate for you.