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Mr Hunt, shaming GPs on cancer diagnosis is wrong – and I should know

Thanks for your story about Hunt’s proposals to name and shame GPs who fail to diagnose cancer.

My husband Tom, a GP for over 20 years, presented acutely with a large caecal tumour and liver metastases in November and died eight weeks later in January. He had no change in bowel habit or bleeding – just tiredness and lethargy, which he put down to working long hours and stress from his job.

I wrote to the Daily Telegraph (July 1) to say how sad it was that, under Jeremy Hunt’s proposals to name and shame GPs who fail to spot cancer, that he would have been chastised for not recognising his own symptoms.

A letter supporting the proposals from the President of the Royal College of Pathologists, Dr Archie Prentice, was published on the same day. I sincerely hope he read my letter.  

GPs do not just deal with factual interpretation of laboratory results day by day but with real people who may or may not have cancer. They are also an extremely cost-effective commodity in the NHS and are very skilled in spotting the ‘red flags’ from their history-taking skills.

GPs act as gate-keepers into our already massively over-stretched hospitals and are extremely efficient in sorting the wheat from the chaff. Jeremy Hunt needs to recognise that his proposals are contributing further to the demoralisation of GPs and also to the detriment of recruitment and retention. 

From Barbara Seddon, Bolton, Lancashire