NHS plans to achieve earlier cancer diagnosis and save lives
Patients are to be given the option to refer themselves for cancer tests, as part of an NHS England bid to diagnose an extra 10% of people early. It said it would start testing new ways of speeding up diagnosis, including offering patients the option to book appointments directly with a hospital or testing unit ahead of seeing a GP. Currently, around 25% of cancer diagnoses are made too late.
The plans are part of a drive to improve cancer survival rates in England, which are below the European average, especially for people over 75. NHS England says diagnosing 60%, rather than 50%, of people early would mean 8,000 more patients would be alive five years after diagnosis. This would also result in a fall in the number of cancer diagnoses which have to be made in A&E.
NHS England said it would test the following initiatives:
- Enabling patients to book their own appointments directly with a hospital diagnostic service or testing unit instead of going to see their GP first
- Offering patients different types of cancer tests in the same place, on the same day
- Using community pharmacists to fast-track patients when recurring cancer symptoms are suspected
- GPs sending patients directly for specific tests, without having to refer to a specialist.
Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal, comments: “ Any initiative which results in an improvement in the early cancer diagnosis statistics is welcome; all too often we currently see valid injury claims being brought because potentially unnecessary delay has resulted in the opportunity for successful treatment being limited. I believe these are sensible initiatives provided they are used wisely and do not result in people randomly booking tests for any and every minor symptom. Offering more than one test on the same day and place has to be the way forward rather than the continual back and forth and multiple referrals which just lead to delay and lost communications and in some cases litigation.”
How can we help?
If you have an enquiry or you would like to find out more about our services, why not contact us?