The number of GP cancer referrals has risen by 50% in the last five years – while specialist services are under increased pressure to cope with the rising demand, a new report claims.
According to a report by Cancer Research UK, 900,000 patients in England were referred by their GP for suspected cancer in 2009-10, and over 1.4 million in 2013-14, representing a 50% increase in referrals.
There have also been significant increases both in the number of diagnostic tests being carried out and the number of patients receiving treatment for cancer following a referral from their GP.
However, the report also claims that specialist cancer services are under pressure to meet the rising demand of people getting the disease due to shrinking budgets and a lack of available resources.
The charity has called on the Government to step up its investment in cancer services, adding that the increased amount of GP referrals is ‘outstripping’ available resources.
The report states: ‘The Government should increase investment in cancer services, to ensure the NHS can meet rising demand and ensure our cancer outcomes become the best in the world.
‘Investment is particularly crucial in diagnostic services, where rising demand is starting to outstrip the resources available. Our findings suggest that the impact of the financial environment is considered more of an immediate challenge for cancer services than the impact of the reforms. There is widespread concern that capacity (in relation to both clinical space and workforce) is not keeping up with current demands, and that this would ultimately affect patients.’