GP bashing is one of the media’s favourite bloodsports, and there is no more enjoyable GP-bashing session than bashing GPs over cancer diagnosis rates.
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Notable highlights include GPs sending patients away THREE times without a diagnosis, GPs ‘failing’ to send patients for cancer checks because they don’t want to scare them, or GPs being to blame for the high number of lung cancer deaths. (Click at your own peril).
Never one to miss out, the health secretary came up with his own hare-brained – and quietly dropped – idea for GPs to be ‘named and shamed’ after missing cancer diagnoses.
So colour me surprised when official figures released this week found that GPs are, in fact, successfully picking up early cancer, with fewer picked up through an emergency admission as a result.
Even more shocking was that this news failed to make it in to the wider national media.
Of course, in reality, neither of these happenings were a revelation. Studies continue to show that GPs are doing a good job picking up cancer early. And, actually, when patients are being diagnosed at the first time in A&E, it’s often because they hadn’t even seen their GP.
GPs manage this despite a lack of access to recommended diagnostic tools, increasing numbers of worried well flooding practices following media scare stories and the well-trodden lack of funding, recruitment crisis and unfunded work.
It might not make such a sexy headline for the wider press. But it is about time we celebrated GPs’ triumph in adversity.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse