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Independents' Day

GPs to be trained under NHS England scheme to diagnose cancer earlier

GPs will be trained to spot the signs of cancer early as part of a new NHS England strategy to increase survival rates in London.

CCGs will be asked to fund cover to allow GPs to attend training in using cancer decision support tools such as the Macmillan tool, says the strategy.

NHS England published the five-year strategy yesterday, which says: ‘More GPs should be trained to spot the signs of cancer early, for example, using a Macmillan decision support tool that flags up combinations of symptoms that could be caused by cancer.

‘Public health teams and CCGs should also commission awareness campaigns, such as Cancer Activists in the community and “Get to know cancer” pop-up shops.’

It also says that patients will also be given an ‘integrated recovery package’ to ensure they have holistic care and a new end-of-life care pathway will be commissioned to ensure patients are supported to die in their chosen place.

Dr Anne Rainsberry, regional director for NHS England (London) said: ‘More than a quarter of cancers are diagnosed in A&E or as an emergency referral. We need to change services so that London’s health services become better at preventing cancer and detecting it earlier.

’The increasing numbers surviving cancer will mean extra challenges for the NHS, when services are already under pressure – especially in primary care, where patients tell us they often can’t get an GP appointment quickly.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • Aren't GPs already trained to spot symptoms of cancer?

    Is there evidence that GPs delayed diagnoses in those cases presenting to A&E or as emergency admissions?

    Does the proposed solution match the problem?

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  • perhaps a bit more investment in MRI and easier access to U/s services might be more productive .

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  • Ivan Benett

    I've no doubt we can do better, but really the problem is patient awareness and willingness to present with symptoms. When we looked at the cancer pathway most of the delays are at the patient end. Most GPs referred promptly and appropriately and there were few delays in the hospital end of the pathway either.
    Going to a doctor with early symptoms of cancer is more complex than many (lay) people and politicians understand. It involves fear, denial, and often strange health beliefs.
    Of course educate GPs better, but the main effort should be toward public understanding and encouragement to present when needed.

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  • I audited our new cancer diagnoses over the last 15 months - 2% diagnosed in A/E- suggest we all have a look at our own practice figures?

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