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Two-week referral rule is nothing to do with NICE

Please would you stop attributing the current cancer referral guidelines to NICE (News,

March 22).

These guidelines were produced by the Department of Health in March 2000 to

support the Government's initiative on the

'two-week rule'.

While in many circles the guidelines have been accepted as a useful tool in focusing both GPs and cancer specialists on the process of fast-tracking potential cancer patients into urgent assessment, they are widely recognised as having a number of flaws and, in some sections, being unsupported by inadequate evidence.

NICE has subsequently been commissioned to update these guidelines. This it is doing with assistance from the National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care.

A Guideline Development Group has been working through 2003/4 and will enable NICE to publish new guidelines, fully evidenced and validated as far as is possible, in March 2005.

So let's not prejudice a new and constructive initiative before it has even got off the ground by wrong attribution.

Dr Ivan Cox

Chair

NICE Cancer Referral

Guidelines Group

and GP in Birmingham

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