A team of doctors have unleashed on the Southern District Health Board after running their own investigation into the region's cancer programme.
They claim patients with active cancer symptoms were ignored in favour of a new early-detection screening service.
Paul Cosgrove is a patient with terminal bowel cancer who says his condition wasn’t picked up quickly enough.
“I've probably got two months, which I've used up probably six weeks of that already, but I still believe I'll prove them wrong,” he told 1 NEWS.
Cosgrove was denied a colonoscopy twice by the Southern DHB despite being referred by a doctor.
By the time it was finally picked up, the cancer had spread.
“When they refused me, they sentenced me to death,” he says.
Today, Dr Phil Bagshaw published a damning investigation, using the Official Information Act. He claims that while the DHB were refusing colonoscopies to patients like Cosgrove, they were applying to take on even more work, joining the National Cancer Screening Programme.
“There was a need to provide a service for people who had symptoms of bowel cancer, they weren't managing to do that, they were way behind with that, and then on top of that, they took on screening, which they were not ready for,” Bagshaw says.
The advocate claims the Health Ministry had lost its moral compass by allowing it to happen.
“Ethics of medicine is very simple, our first responsibility is to people with symptoms.”
In response, the agency has issued statements, saying more than 230 cancers had been identified with the programme.
The DHB claiming this has not been at the expense of symptomatic patients.
“With the length of time it was in my bowel, cancer mutates, and the order it normally goes, it goes to your liver, and it goes to your lung, and that's what's happened to me,” Cosgrove says.