The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt states that he is keen to improve cancer detection rates across the UK. Jeremy Hunt has said ”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.”
He proposes naming and shaming on a NHS website those GPs who fail to spot signs of cancer. Doctors found to be missing too many cases of cancer or with patients who are forced to make repeated visits before being referred for tests would be marked with a red flag.
Delays by GPs in recognising cancer cases causes delays in referring patients for potentially life-saving scans. Ali Stunt, founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action stated that 40% of patients with pancreatic cancer have visited their GPs four times or more before being referred. A tenth have to see their GPs ten times or more.
The Royal College of GPs has warned that Jeremy Hunt’s proposals could lead to GPs, worried about being named on the website, sending people to specialists unnecessarily. This could result in hospitals being flooded with healthy people and longer waiting lists being created for diagnostic tests.