News the Government is rolling out a national bowel screening programme next year is "absolutely amazing", Wanganui Cancer Society's acting manager says.

"It's good to see the Government are taking a lead in rolling it out," Jane Beamsley said.

In Budget announcements yesterday Finance Minister Bill English said $39.3 million would be invested over four years to start the programme, which is set to begin in 2017.

The programme will start with Hutt Valley and Wairarapa District Health Boards and will roll out progressively around the country.


"Once fully implemented, the programme is expected to screen over 700,000 people every two years," Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said.

Ms Beamsley said bowel cancer was high in Whanganui, "so people being able to test themselves and become more aware is an amazing thing".

"It will most definitely make a difference locally," Ms Beamsley said.

"Bowel cancer is one of our most common cancers and one of the top five in Whanganui. So far the screening programme has helped to detect bowel cancer in 300 plus people in the Waitemata District - that can only mean a positive outcome everywhere."

Bowel cancer is often curable when caught early, but can be difficult to detect.

The screening programme will let district health boards offer a test to people aged 60-74 every two years. More than 80 per cent of cancers found through the pilot were in that age group.

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) chairwoman Dot McKinnon said the programme was "going to be huge" because it would help prevent hospitalisations and deaths.

"Basically it's good for us and good for New Zealand," she said.

Ms McKinnon was "pleased" with the rest of the Budget announcements for health, which include $2.2 billion going into the health sector over the next four years.

WDHB would receive an extra $6 million in funding this year, taking its total funding to $233 million for 2016/17.

"Anything we get at the moment is really worthwhile," she said.

"Our budgeting is very tight."

WDHB member and Whanganui Regional Health Network chief executive Judith MacDonald felt an extra $12 million going into increasing support for primary care and social services to help people access mental health assistance earlier was positive, and would "indirectly" contribute to protecting vulnerable children.

"I'm not saying that it will reverse vulnerable children issues in our community but it's a step in the right direction."

She was also pleased with the $12 million going to expanding a successful programme providing intensive alcohol and drug support for pregnant women. "To be honest, it's a no-brainer that the Government would invest to support the unborn child."

An investment of $18 million over two years into insulating rental homes, and $18 million over four years into expanding the Healthy Homes Initiative to reduce preventable illnesses among young children living in damp, cold and unhealthy homes appeared to be lower than previous years.

Mrs MacDonald said she was "a little concerned" the number was a reduction on previous budgets. She said earlier budgets had given $100 million over two years.

"It's in there, so we'll take it."

She was concerned the initiative did not consider other vulnerable groups, such as Whanganui's elderly.

Both Mrs MacDonald and Ms McKinnon were happy with the $124 million that would be going to Pharmac to provide more access to new medicines.

Mrs MacDonald would have liked to see more support for general practice, as it was becoming "increasingly difficult for general practices to manage cost".

The Budget also includes $96 million to provide more elective surgery.