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We never wanted to ban GP minor surgery

With reference to the story 'Minor surgery victory for GPs', this situation has arisen through a lack of understanding of the difference between skin cancer surgery and GP minor surgery more generally.

The British Association of Dermatologists has never expressed concerns over GPs conducting routine skin surgery - our sole involvement on this issue has been explicitly in relation to the quality of care of skin cancer patients.

Contrary to your report, no 'concessions' were made by any of the attendees. The meeting clarified what defines a low-risk basal cell carcinoma, but there has been no alteration to the guidance regarding which patients should be referred, or how they should be managed and by whom. All patients with high-risk BCC, squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma, or where the diagnosis is uncertain, must continue to be referred to a doctor trained in the specialist diagnosis of skin malignancy, who is a core member of the multidisciplinary team.

The meeting reinforced that any practitioners wishing to treat skin cancer must meet the accreditation guidelines, which have not changed. GPs' role in minor surgery for non-malignant conditions was not discussed; the BAD has only ever been concerned with treatment relating to skin cancers.

From Dr Mark Goodfield, president, British Association of Dermatologists

Editor's note

Our story made clear that the NICE skin cancer guidance would not change, but that the meeting had discussed how to interpret it. We stand by our story that a compromise was reached allowing GP surgeons who might, perhaps inadvertently, remove the occasional skin cancer in the course of their work to be exempt from strict GPSI-level standards.

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