GPs 'to be shamed over cancer'

GPs face being named and shamed if they repeatedly fail to spot signs of cancer in their patients, it has been reported.

Jeremy Hunt said tough action must be taken to improve cancer diagnosis levels
Jeremy Hunt said tough action must be taken to improve cancer diagnosis levels

Doctors will be marked out with a red flag on an NHS website if they are deemed to be missing too many cases or patients have to make repeated visits before being referred for tests, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Practices will be given a green rating if they have quick referral times for patients who show possible signs of having the disease.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said tough action must be taken to bring standards at practices with poor cancer referral rates into line with those who have the highest standards.

"We need to do much better," he told the newspaper. "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."

It comes as senior Conservatives raised concerns about the future of the NHS if significant new funding is not ploughed in to deal with the increasing demands it faces.

Former Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell said he would be ashamed if the Government failed to inject cash into the NHS at a t ime when the economy was growing, according to The Observer.

"I am in favour of the Government not denying what 5,000 years of history tells us is true, which is that every time a society gets richer it spends a rising share of its income on looking after the sick and the vulnerable," he said.

Sarah Wollaston, a GP who now chairs the Commons health select committee, said: "If there is not an increase, it is hard to see how we could maintain current levels of service given the rising demand.

"The NHS budget has been protected in line with background inflation but that does not keep pace with inflation in health costs from rising demand and demographic changes.

"I don't want to see any reduction in services; I would like to see further improvements and that will require an increase in funding."

Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: "This is a desperate idea from a Government that won't take responsibility for the problems it has created in the NHS.

"David Cameron wasted billions on a re-organisation nobody wanted and left cancer patients waiting longer for tests and treatment. He should be ashamed of his own record - not attacking doctors.

"This Government has thrown away progress made on cancer care. It is proof of why the Tories can't be trusted with the NHS."