What impact do GPs think the new NHS cancer guide will have?
Doctors are being told to extend cancer tests to half a million more patients a year under the new NHS guidelines. The guide – designed to be used by doctors and patients – signposts for the very first time the symptoms that could be indicative of one of 37 cancers. GPs can already request X-rays, blood tests and some scans, but under the new guidelines will be able to get fast-tracked endoscopy investigations and MRI or CT brain scan tests, historically ordered by a specialist following referral. This guide can potentially prevent 5,000 deaths a year by speeding up diagnosis and ensuring more patients have a full range of treatment options available to them.
On investigation on the thoughts of GPs, although over half of the GPs surveyed were unsure of the extent to which the guidelines would be implemented in their practice, there was a strong consensus that they would lead to an improvement in patient outcomes. Most felt the changes recommended by the guidelines would be easy to implement with 12% feeling that substantial change to GP services would be required to accommodate the new protocols.
Rebecca Marshall-Clarke, Adelphi’s Oncology lead says “The guidelines empower GPs to fully investigate patients presenting with symptoms that could be linked to conditions such as myeloma, lung cancer and ovarian cancer, without the need for secondary care referral. These conditions often first present with symptoms such as cough or back pain that are easily attributable to other benign causes’.
Claire Nelson, one of Adelphi’s NHS Leads said “service redesign to optimise diagnosis and management is critical in today’s NHS. Ensuring patients are treated at the right time, in the right place and with the right treatment is key”.