FREE bowel screening has come to Whanganui!

Mayor Hamish McDouall has special reason to advocate for test that saves lives.

Mayor_Hamish_McDouall_Bowel_ScreeningMayor McDouall remembers his friend from university days in Otago as being “fit and a talented footballer who loved music”.


The friend became unwell and in some pain – “He thought it was an ulcer”.


It wasn’t an ulcer, it was bowel cancer and the friend – fit and healthy – died.


That memory is just one reason why McDouall is getting behind the free National Bowel Screening Programme which is being launched in Whanganui on October 22.


Whanganui will get free screening for men and women aged 60 to 74 years who are eligible for publicly funded healthcare – and any follow-up tests or treatment will also be free.


McDouall is delighted the national programme has reached the River City where it is estimated it could save as many as 25 lives in its first two years. And he is encouraging everyone who receives a test kit in the post to participate.


He has another connection to the programme as his best friend Matthew is the son of gastroenterologist Susan Parry, the clinical director for the National Bowel Screening Programme.


“I know Susan very well, and I know she has done some wonderful work and is very passionate about this programme. She is also extremely humble, but this is an amazing thing that will save lives.”


The programme started in July 2017 with Hutt Valley and Wairarapa the first district health boards involved. Once the national programme is fully implemented, more than 700,000 people aged between 60 and 74 years will be invited to take part in the screening programme every two years. Read more.

Agencies join together to address collapse of State Highway 4


A large landslip in the Parapara Road (State Highway 4) showing the end of the road as it collapses into the earth

Photo credit: Mark Brimblecombe

A collaborative framework has been put in place by various agencies dealing with the closure of State Highway 4.


A conference between Ruapehu District Council, Whanganui District Health Board, St John and Whanganui Regional Health Network on Friday 11 October set up a joint approach to the transport difficulties caused by a major collapse of the road between Whanganui and Raetihi.


Whanganui DHB chief executive Russell Simpson reassured the public that health services would be maintained and that agencies were working collectively.


A further meeting on Monday 14 October also involved Fire and Emergency NZ and primary care provider Ruapehu Health Limited and resulted in positive discussions to ensure services to the community continued.


St John Territory Manager Nigel Watson said that although transport times to Whanganui Hospital would now be longer, helicopter services would support the road ambulance crews, and any patients in critical or serious condition could be airlifted to the hospital.


For safety reasons, St John will not use the Fields Track alternative route.


“The health shuttle will remain available to transport patients to Whanganui for non-urgent appointments. Ambulances work as a network to ensure emergency ambulances are available in the area as needed,” said Watson.


The reinstatement of State Highway 4 is likely to be a lengthy process, and all agencies accepted the new arrangements would be long lasting.


Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron said that he welcomed the collaborative approach.