Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Bowel screening applauded

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Brett Morrison.
Brett Morrison.

On the anniversary of Papamoa woman Sarah Morrison's death from bowel cancer, the Government announced a screening programme would be rolled out throughout the country.

The announcement of a $39 million initiative to roll out a national bowel screening programme was made in Parliament yesterday as part of the 2016/2017 Budget.

This comes exactly a year after Mrs Morrison lost her 10-month battle with bowel cancer.

Her husband Brett has since become a national ambassador for Bowel Cancer New Zealand.

Mr Morrison told the Bay of Plenty Times in November he was convinced that if there was a national screening programme in place, his wife, who was already at Stage 4 when diagnosed, would be alive today.

He said on Facebook that he was often outspoken about his "displeasure with the lack of action regarding bowel screening", but he thanked ministers Bill English and Jonathan Coleman for the announcement.

"Well done to everyone who has worked so hard behind the scenes on this, today we've made a step in the right direction but let's not just keep up with the rest of the world let's lead them," he wrote.

Other health announcements in the Budget included an extra $32 million for the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

Health Minister Coleman said the board's funding injection took its total allocation to a record level of $718 million for 2016/17.

Board chairwoman Sally Webb said there were quite a few pluses in the Budget for health, on top of the extra funding for the health board, which would be a great help in offering health services in the Bay.

She was pleased with additional funding for Pharmac and primary care services.

"Two of the primary care initiatives, the one for mental health and the one for intensive alcohol and drug support for pregnant women, are excellent initiatives that will help people in our community stay healthier.

"There's a lot across the Budget that we in the Bay can benefit from."

Health funding allocated

The Government will invest $16.1 billion in health in 2016/17.

New health initiatives include:

- $1.6 billion for DHBs to invest in services, meet population growth and deliver better results. Bay of Plenty District Health Board gets $32 million extra.

- $124 million for Pharmac to provide more New Zealanders with access to new medicines.

- $169 million for disability support services.

- $96 million to provide more elective surgery.

- $73 million for primary healthcare. This includes extra support for the free doctors' visits and prescriptions for under-13s that we announced in Budget 2014.

- $39 million to start the roll out of a national bowel screening programme.

- Tobacco excise duty will rise by 10 per cent on January 1 each year for the next four years.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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