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GP trial starts for ‘one-stop-shop’ cancer diagnostics

A GP cluster in South Wales has stepped forward to trial a new one-stop shop for cancer tests to try to cut late diagnosis.

The aim is to emulate a similar scheme in Denmark, which Cwm Taf Health Board representatives visited last year.

Launching next month, the twice-weekly clinic at the Royal Glamorgan hospital, which will be run by local GPs, will enable rapid access to a full range of tests for those patients who present with worrying but non-specific symptoms.

Current figures show only 35% of all cancers diagnosed in the Cwm Taf area are in patients showing urgent ‘red flag’ symptoms yet tests for vague symptoms can take weeks to complete as patients go back and forth from their GP.

The fast-track idea was proposed in the Wales Cancer plan in November 2016.

Dr Gareth Jordan, a GP in Aberdare and lead for Cynon GP Cluster, said it is about offering quick diagnosis for those patients in whom ‘gut instinct’ tells you something is wrong but who don’t fit into current urgent referral pathways.

‘I volunteered our cluster and local GPs are giving their time to work in the hub,’ said Dr Jordan.

It is thought about six patients a week from the 10-practice cluster will be referred to the scheme, which will work through electronic referral and be overseen by a co-ordinator to stop patients being bounced around between departments with no resolution.

‘There was huge enthusiasm when I suggested this project to local GPs,’ Dr Jordan said.

‘We know our patients and we might not have seen them for years but when they walk through the door we know there is something wrong.’

The scheme will offer a raft of basic tests as well as a chest X-ray for all patients, as well as quick access to CT scans and other investigations such as endoscopy.

If proven to be successful it will roll out to three other clusters in the Cwm Taf area after the first six months.

A similar clinic is being set up at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital as part of a second trial run by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board.