National Bowel Screening Programme

National Bowel Screening Programme

Southern DHB saving lives through bowel screening

1bowelSouthern DHB’s free bowel cancer screening programme is for men and women aged 60 – 74 years of age.

From late April 2018, Southern residents will be among the first in the country to benefit from a new, free, bowel cancer screening programme.

The programme will help reduce deaths and promote long term health by either finding and removing pre-cancerous polyps, or finding bowel cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated.

This is an invitation-based screening programme. Those eligible to receive publicly funded healthcare will be sent an invitation letter, a consent form, and a free bowel screening faecal immunochemical test (FIT) kit through the mail.  The FIT can detect tiny traces of blood present in a small sample of faeces. It is easy, simple and quick to complete and is returned directly to the laboratory by mail.

To be invited, people must be:

Invitation letters will be timed to coincide with people’s birthdays, allowing for a constant and even flow of invitations over 24 months. People who have a birthdate with an even number will receive an invitation in year 1 (between late April 2018 and April 2019), and those with an odd birthdate number will receive an invitation in year 2 (between April 2019 and April 2020). After a person has been invited for the first time, future correspondence will be based on their previous screening dates.

It is anticipated that 86 cases of bowel cancer will be identified in the first two years of the programme, and that many of these will be in the early stage.

Primary care providers are being funded to notify their patients of a positive result either by phone or face to face.  Providers will manage referrals and encourage, educate and support patients to undergo a colonoscopy. If further treatment is required, providers will work in partnership with Southern DHB to ensure prompt and appropriate treatment is provided to their patients.

Participants can choose to opt out of the programme and have the option to receive their test result without notifying their GP. Patients with a negative result will be contacted automatically for screening every two years.

Screening is free for those who are eligible, as are any follow-up tests or treatment.

Please note: Screening is for people who have no symptoms of bowel cancer. Anyone of any age with symptoms should be encouraged to contact their doctor immediately.

To contact Southern DHB’s bowel screening team, e-mail

More information

The National Bowel Screening Programme is being progressively rolled out throughout New Zealand. Read more

How to access information on bowel screening in te reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Hindi, Chinese and Korean.  Read more

Two videos have been made to help people know what to expect when coming for a colonoscopy at Dunedin or Southland Hospital. 

Want to keep up to date? Subscribe to our newsletter

To order resources or to talk to one of our bowel screening team members email