08 April 2011

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) does not support the pharmacy-based bowel screening programme which is being launched today and has expressed serious misgivings.

NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley says that he is concerned the programme has been set up without consultation with the medical profession and that it appears to be a “piecemeal approach” to healthcare.

“GPs are better placed to provide this service as they are aware of a patient’s history, which is a very important part of screening. General practice, the enrolled medical home of 97% of New Zealanders, is where screening must occur so that it is linked to the individual’s healthcare and doctors can be properly involved.”

Dr Foley says that while pharmacists need to play greater roles in the health sector, allowing them to deliver programmes such as bowel screening will splinter integrated healthcare.

“Point of care testing is desirable in the right settings but it must be linked with the rest of the enrolled patient’s care. The test itself is only part of screening. The patient’s history and an understanding of false negative and false positive results need to be managed.”

Dr Foley says he is concerned about the kits as they may falsely reassure people or worry them unnecessarily.