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GPs' fury over NICE skin cancer 'farce'

GPs have angrily hit back at a report accusing them of putting patients at risk by ignoring NICE skin cancer guidelines.

Researchers have claimed GPs disregarded NICE guidance on the management of skin cancer by continuing to surgically treat suspected malignancies in the community without joining a multidisciplinary team or sending samples for histological assessment.

Data on skin specimens submitted to a local district general hospital showed a 4% increase between 2005 and 2006 in incidents where a GP thought a lesion was benign and histology proved it to be malignant.

Due to be presented at the British Association of Dermatologists annual meeting, the study also found 50% of all malignant lesions were incompletely excised by GPs.

Study author Dr Allan Marsden, a dermatology consultant at St George's Hospital, London, said: 'We believe there is a need to highlight the discrepancies between GP practice and NICE guidance, especially in light of the trend to move dermatology services into the community.'

But Dr Peter Fellows, a GP in Lydney, Gloucestershire, and GPC member said: 'The guidelines are farcical, written by someone who has no idea of what general practice is like.'

He added: 'A lot of surgery can be done by GPSIs and if there are problems it is because the Government is exerting pressure on GPs not to refer – putting emphasis on saving money, not on quality.'

Dr John Adams, a GPSI in dermatology in Cheadle, Cheshire, said: 'If the case is not suitable for primary care, then of course we would refer.

'But GPs can deal with some skin cancers in the community. And I'm still waiting for my invitation to join my local multidisciplinary team.'

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