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Darzi centres to spearhead Labour’s ‘massive expansion’ in GP cancer diagnostics

By Nigel Praities

The Labour Party has promised a ‘major expansion' in GP access to cancer diagnostics in the community, with Darzi centres used to ensure all patients with suspected cancer receive test results within one week.

In a speech outlining the Labour party's manifesto commitments for the NHS, health secretary Andy Burnham promised to ‘empower' GPs to diagnose cancer earlier and thereby save around 10,000 lives a year.

Pulse revealed earlier this year that a Department of Health audit had identified long waiting times for diagnostics such as ultrasound as a key barrier to faster diagnosis.

At the time, cancer tsar Professor Richards said direct access to diagnostics such as ultrasound and flexible sigmoidoscopy was ‘exactly what we need' to meet the Government's one-week target for cancer referrals.

In a speech at the King's Fund, Mr Burnham said he had listened to his advisers and was prepared to fund a massive expansion of testing and diagnostics in primary care.

‘We will make a manifesto commitment to give people with suspected cancers test results within a week. It will be delivered by a major expansion of the diagnostic and testing capability in primary care.'

‘This is possible to do because Labour has created an entirely new healthcare infrastructure at local level, with 256 purpose-built health centres in communities up and down England,' he said.

And in a swipe at Conservative party proposals to widen access to specialist cancer treatments, he added: 'Our judgement is that it is right to focus resources here rather than break the discipline of the medicines approvals process that has served the NHS well over the past decade.'

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