GPs get direct access to cancer tests
GPs are to get direct access to cancer tests without the need for specialist referral in plans that hope to see patients diagnosed earlier.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced at the Britain against Cancer conference that over £25 million will be made available in 2011/12 to fund up to 150,000 extra cancer tests.
This will give GPs direct access to non-obstetric ultrasound, flexible sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy and brain magnetic resonance imaging scans for patients with cancer symptoms.
A typical GP may see hundreds of patients presenting with symptoms that could be cancer every year, said Lansley.
"So we need to give them the support, the resources and the authority they need to reduce delays in diagnosis. And that includes fast and direct access to the right diagnostic tests."
Steps to increase GPs access to scans have also been taken by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR). The two organizations have joined forces to identify which scans can be effectively provided through GPs and encourage closer working between GPs and radiologists.
"Linking up with local hospitals to provide faster and improved imaging services has been the aspiration of many surgeries for some time," said RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada.
Dr Tony Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Radiology of the RCR, added: "Using evidence-based radiology referral guidelines, we can improve the quality and cost effectiveness of the service patients receive."
GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010