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Cancer proposals lack detail

Cancer proposals lack detail

NHS England’s proposal for cancer self referral have no detail and needs more explanation.

Posted: 22 January 2015

Speaking to Primary Care Today, chair of the British Medical Association GP Committee (BMA GPC), Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said there needed to be more clarity over the plans to ensure there are no unintended consequences.

Dr Nagpaul said little had been said about the diagnostic tests that would be offered to patients.

“If we were to open up diagnostics to patients in an unfettered manner, it would clog up the system for patients who may have urgent need for diagnosis, who will then wait longer – these ideas have to be thought through carefully,” he said.

Char of NHS Alliance, Dr Michael Dixon, agreed and said: “It’s quite against the grain of recognising general practice is what makes the health service efficient in the first place.

“We make sure those who need access to secondary care for diagnostics or treatment are the ones that do need it.

“I see this as a bit of a kick in the teeth for general practice by people who don’t understand how it properly works.”

Patients will be allowed to refer themselves for diagnostic tests, in NHS England (NHSE) plans to improve cancer survival rates.

As well as GP referral thresholds being lowered, multi-disciplinary diagnostic centres are to be piloted offering patients several tests in one location or over the same day in more than 60 areas in the country.

NHSE has announced an independent taskforce will be commissioned to create a five-year action plan for cancer services as well as a new programme to test innovative ways to diagnose cancer quicker to be implemented from 2016-17.

The organisation has committed £15m over the next three years to evaluate and treat people using stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), for cancers found in the liver, spine and pelvis, currently the treatment is limited to just lung cancer.

The group will be chaired by chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Harpal Kumar, and include cancer specialist clinicians and doctors, patient groups, leaders from charities, local councils and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The group has been formed after a request for better prevention, swifter diagnosis and better treatment and aftercare for cancer sufferers in NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens’, Five Year Forward View.

Head of the NHS cancer taskforce, Harpal Kumar, said: “The Five Year Forward View has set out a compelling vision for the delivery of health services. We now need to turn the vision into a reality for the thousands of patients diagnosed with cancer every week.

“Cancer Research UK is projecting an increase of a third in the number of cases over the next 15 years. So the time is right to set new ambitions and to take a fresh look at how we will meet this need.”

Simon Stevens, said: “Cancer survival rates in England are at an all-time high, but too many patients are still being diagnosed late – up to one in four only when they present in A&E.

“It’s time for a fresh look at how we can do even better with more focus on prevention, earlier diagnosis and modern radiotherapy and other services so over the next five years we can save at least 8,000 more lives every year.”

Carlisle Baker-Jackson, Reporter