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Mr Hunt, shaming GPs on cancer diagnosis is wrong - and I should know

Would the health secretary’s proposals have helped my late husband, a GP, who missed his own cancer? No, says Barbara Seddon

Thanks for your story about Hunt’s proposals to name and shame GPs who fail to diagnose cancer.

My husband Tom, a GP for over 20 years, presented acutely with a large caecal tumour and liver metastases in November and died eight weeks later in January. He had no change in bowel habit or bleeding - just tiredness and lethargy, which he put down to working long hours and stress from his job.

I wrote to the Daily Telegraph (July 1) to say how sad it was that, under Jeremy Hunt’s proposals to name and shame GPs who fail to spot cancer, that he would have been chastised for not recognising his own symptoms.

A letter supporting the proposals from the President of the Royal College of Pathologists, Dr Archie Prentice, was published on the same day. I sincerely hope he read my letter.  

GPs do not just deal with factual interpretation of laboratory results day by day but with real people who may or may not have cancer. They are also an extremely cost-effective commodity in the NHS and are very skilled in spotting the ‘red flags’ from their history-taking skills.

GPs act as gate-keepers into our already massively over-stretched hospitals and are extremely efficient in sorting the wheat from the chaff. Jeremy Hunt needs to recognise that his proposals are contributing further to the demoralisation of GPs and also to the detriment of recruitment and retention. 

From Barbara Seddon, Bolton, Lancashire

Readers' comments (5)

  • Vinci Ho

    Thank you for sharing this story with us(really you do not need to do this ) but what you wrote in this article is highly respectable. Tom simply has dedicated his life to general practice and NHS. All you said about GPs are exactly what we were taught to believe about general practice in this country . Unfortunately , we have a Secretary of State and his government who are only interested in the well being of their party more than that of patients. Twisting a lie and making it look like the truth is what they are 'good' at.
    Finally , my late father ( passed away in November 2013) used to tell me,
    ' It is not important how long you have lived .It does not matter how much wealth and pleasure you had . Because they will all expire with time. But nothing can compare with a person's legacy which can last forever.' (Comes from an ancient Chinese Literature)

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  • Barbara - I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for publicly supporting the work your husband and all GPs do.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I agree. Humbled that you even felt able to write. Respect ++++.


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  • We are all human, and to hold us up to the expectation of 100% pick-up rates is flawed and inhumane. No production line is 100% perfect.
    Sadly, it was probably the stress of GP work and long hours that contributed to Dr Seddon's cancer.

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  • Dr Mustapha Tahir

    May the soul of Tom rest in peace. I sincerely hope Mr Hunt reads this article, and the letter from his widow.

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