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GPs who fail to spot cancer: Jeremy Hunt's proposals

Posted by: Comms 30 July 2014

The Mail on Sunday has reported on proposals from the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, for GPs who fail to spot signs of cancer and are slow to refer patients for tests to be identified and marked with a red flag on the NHS Choices website.

The proposals could also include cases where patients have to had return to their GP numerous times before being sent for tests. 

Mr Hunt, in an interview with the paper said: "We need to do much better. Cancer diagnosis levels around the country vary significantly and we must do much more to improve both the level of diagnosis and to bring those GP practices with poor referral rates up to the standards of the best."

Alex Ford, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK says, "We support making GP referrals more transparent, which we believe will lead to the earlier diagnosis of all patients. We have long argued that more needs to be done to improve earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer patients in particular. Currently 16% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed only after 7 or more visits to the GP and hospital, and we know that there ARE symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer that GPs can pick up on.  

However, we also know that GPs see only a small number pancreatic cancer patients during their career, and that pancreatic cancer symptoms are often vague and unspecific. Therefore, we want to see GPs being given as much help as possible to enable them refer more quickly, and in the right way. This includes direct access to imaging tests such as CT scans, and improved access to risk assessment tools.Pancreatic Cancer UK is working with the Department of Health, other charities, and a wide range of health professionals, including GPs, to achieve this."

For more context on pancreatic cancer diagnosis, read our Early Diagnosis Report, which outlines a number of key actions we believe could help improve early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.