Bowel cancer patients in South Canterbury can expect quicker access to treatment with the launch of a pilot South Island Colorectal Cancer Treatment Fast Track initiative.

The pilot stems from information gathered in the Southern Cancer Network Regional Bowel Cancer Mapping Report, which identified several bottlenecks that were slowing treatment. A clinically led working group has been established to reduce waiting times in the current system.

The pilot programme will see patients have their care co-ordinated, generally by a cancer nurse, and documented in a single record.

The multidisciplinary approach and proactive early referral between services will mean earlier entry to waiting lists, such as for radiology.

“Our Mapping Report showed that in 2008-09 the average time from GP referral to the start of treatment was two to three months, and it was clear there were areas where we could improve processes and reduce bottlenecks to ensure patients receive treatment faster,” Fast Track group chair Dr Chris Jackson said.

“The effectiveness of the Fast Track and how it improves the patient journey to treatment will be closely monitored over the first three months, following which the initiative will be reviewed to make sure we are heading on the right track and to identify any refinements we can make to streamline the pathway to treatment.”

Last week a Cancer Standards Institute report blamed late diagnosis and poorer access to treatment for a 10 per cent higher mortality rate for cancer deaths in New Zealand than in Australia.