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One in four cancer patients only diagnosed after attending A&E, study exposes hospital shortcomings, and MP pushes for Serco investigation

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 21 September

The finding that one in four cancer patients is only diagnosed once after they end up in A&E is reported in several papers, including this morning´s Guardian.

Some 58,400 cancer cases a year in England - or 24% of all those diagnosed - are identified only once the sufferer has been admitted to hospital as an emergency, the paper says. The proportion is even higher for the over-70s, at 31% of all cases.

The figures emerged from a National Cancer Intelligence Network study of 739,667 people who were diagnosed with the disease in England in 2006-2008. The Guardian says the figures raise fresh questions about the NHS´s ability to spot the disease early enough.

 

The Telegraph is among the papers reporting that twice as many people die after surgery in NHS hospitals as previously thought.

It says the overall chance of dying within two months of surgery is one in 28 (3.6 per cent) according to a study published in The Lancet which finds serious shortcomings in the way many patients are treated.

The paper says the latest study examined 10,630 cases in British hospitals during one week in April 2011. These included both pre-planned and emergency operations, but excluded those not requiring an overnight stay, as well as cardiac, neurological, radiological or obstetric surgery.

It quotes author Dr Rupert Pearse, a reader in intensive care medicine at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, as saying that patients are also being sent back to general wards after surgery rather than critical care beds because of a ‘one-size fits all' approach that is ‘ingrained' in the NHS.

Lessons need to be learnt from cardiac surgery, where information on death rates is freely available and hospitals vie to be the best, according to the Telegraph.

 

Elsewhere, the Guardian reports that the chair of the parliamentary public accounts committee, the Labour MP Margaret Hodge, has asked the National Audit Office to investigate private company Serco, after claims it presented false data to the NHS 252 times on the performance of its out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall.

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