GPs That Miss Cancer Could Be 'Named And Shamed'

GPs With A Poor Record On Spotting Cancer Could Be Named

30.06.2014

GPs that have a poor record on spotting the signs of cancer could be publicly named and shamed under new plans revealed by the coalition government.

Secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt said doctors who repeatedly fail to diagnose cancer by not sending patients for potentially life-saving scans should be punished by having their names published online, reports the BBC.

Labour has condemned the idea, branding it "desperate" and claims that Mr Hunt is attacking doctors.

The Royal College of GPs also criticised the proposal, stating that it is "crude" and that it could cause doctors to indiscriminately send patients for scans, which could result in longer waits for those with more pressing illnesses and conditions.

However, Mr Hunt said that the idea would help the NHS to become more transparent.

The Conservative minister also put forward a plan to rank GPs surgeries on how quickly they spot cases of cancer, while also publicly listing how long it takes people to receive the diagnostic scans they need.

"We need to do much better [on spotting cancer]," Mr Hunt told the Mail on Sunday.

"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."

Sarah Wollaston, a former GP and current Conservative MP, who chairs the Commons Health Select Committee, warned the government to avoid wrongly labelling doctors as being bad at their jobs, before also posting that the proposal could lead to longer waiting lists for scans and tests.

In May, it was revealed that a key government target that stipulates 85 per cent of patients should wait for a maximum of 62 days before starting their cancer treatment had been missed.

Between January and March, this figure slipped to 84.4 per cent - drawing criticism from cancer charities.

Expert Opinion
We welcome any initiative which will ensure that patients are receiving the best possible care from their local practitioners, but it is vital any action is always proportionate and allows doctors to offer quality support.

“Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure the maximum amount of treatment options, thus significantly improving the chances of survival for many types of cancer.

“While the NHS does much excellent work, we represent a number of people who have had inadequate care and have repeatedly called for improvements in standards that will ensure the safety of patients always comes first – regardless of the health problems they face.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner