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Standards need to Improve in Light of Poor Cancer Referral Rates

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said tough action was needed to improve standards at practices with poor cancer referral rates.
 
He said: “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.”
 
Opinion in the medical profession is divided on this issue.
 
The Royal College of Pathologists backed the ‘name and shame’ plans in a letter to The Daily Telegraph last week. GPs have hit back this week in a letter to the Telegraph signed by 650. They fear that the ‘name and shame’ plan will lower “the threshold for referral and result in other parts of the NHS being swamped”. There is a concern that this will ultimately lead to delays in patients receiving treatment and worse outcomes.
 
GPs, said: "If a doctor is negligent, including causing a delay in diagnosis,  there are due processes that determine whether any wrong has been done;  via the General Medical Council or courts. “ They argue that this new initiative is simplistic and could have unintended consequences.
 
Clearly it is in the best interest of the public to drive up standards of care and diagnosis but I would question the effectiveness of this proposal. I would agree that this proposal is simplistic and could be counter-productive. I would propose a more collaborative approach to improve standards in the NHS with professionals sharing best practice rather than being placed in competition against each other.