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GPs kept in dark over hospital cancer blunder

NHS managers kept GPs and patients in the dark for at least a month after concerns were raised that hundreds of people referred to hospital with suspected cancer might have missed investigation or treatment.

Pulse revealed last week that patients referred to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust urgently under the two-week rule might have slipped through the net because of ‘data collection' issues. The trust said it had written to GPs to ask for their help in tracking and contacting the patients, after concerns that up to 900 records were incomplete.

But managers admitted this week they only began contacting GP practices on 2 May, and would only have completed the exercise by 21 May, despite NHS North West London flagging up problems in board minutes dated 10 April.

The paper made reference to an ‘urgent meeting' scheduled with managers from Imperial, CCG chairs and the cluster, but made no mention of LMCs, and added: ‘A clinical review had also started to determine if any risks to patients had arisen due to the delays.'

Dr Michelle Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said she had written to the chief executive of NHS North West London to demand an explanation: ‘It seems to have been going on a lot longer than at first appeared, but we and GPs on the ground weren't aware. It's ludicrous.'

A spokesperson for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: ‘The trust started contacting GP practices, not patients, on 2 May to validate its records. By close of play today [21 May] all GP practices will have been contacted.'

An NHS North West London spokesperson said: ‘The cluster's first priority was ensuring the trust informed GP practices directly involved, supported by a dedicated GP helpline.'


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