Access barriers to PET-CT scans removed

New Zealanders now have the same access to PET-CT scans no matter where they live, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says.

Health New Zealand - Te Whatu Ora has approved funding an updated national set of criteria that will allow for about 1,000 more PET-CT scans a year to be publicly funded.

“This is significant news for Kiwi who may be impacted by cancer – increasing access to diagnostic imaging is vital,” Dr Reti says.

“Health NZ has approved and will fund the National PET-CT indication list and criteria which has been updated and developed by the Cancer Control Agency with clinical input from a specialty project and radiology group.

“This is supported by international evidence-based PET-CT guidelines that will see many more people have access to the diagnostic tool.

“PET-CT scans are important for diagnosis, especially when cancer may have spread. They are more sensitive than other more conventional imaging tests and can better inform treatment decisions for some cancers, including prostate cancer.

“It’s a great step forward in making sure all New Zealanders have the same access to diagnostic technology to help clinicians determine the best treatment options.

“For example, before this nationally applied criteria was developed, men in the South Island had to pay for prostate PET-CT scans that men in most of the North Island didn’t pay for. This removes variation, like this, that previously existed.”

The changes to increasing access to PET-CT scans are estimated to cost about $3million per year. The updated criteria will be in place across the country by mid-March. 

Editors’ notes

  • PET-CT scans are provided by the private sector with many patients referred from and funded by HNZ.
  • Health NZ is working on providing more opportunities to develop and deliver standardised access to treatment tools to help remove long standing issues to delivering health care services.