19 July 2015

RCGP Response to the Independent Cancer Taskforce Report

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“GPs play a vital role in diagnosing patients with cancer and providing the care they need to help them live with the disease – and more support to allow us to do this effectively is essential.

“The Taskforce report outlines a number of recommendations, which if implemented properly – and resourced appropriately - have the potential to save thousands of lives.

“GPs are already doing a very good job of appropriately referring our patients who we suspect of having cancer, considering the relative rarity of presentations - an average GP might see eight new cases of cancer for every 8,000 patient consultations - and the limited resources available to us.

“We have a severe shortage of family doctors and the access we currently have to diagnostic tools is completely inadequate, so we particularly welcome the drive to give GPs better access to relevant scanners – something that the College has long been calling for.

“Anything that can be done to lower patients’ anxiety and any undue distress when they have – or might have – cancer should be encouraged, so we also support the aspiration to provide patients with their test results within four weeks.

“However, we realise that the system is already overloaded and we must ensure that there is sufficient imaging and specialist capacity to cope with the increased number of referrals, before promises are made to patients, that cannot be delivered.

“The public health recommendations in the report are also important but we would like them to go further. We need significant, ongoing public awareness campaigns to educate the public about the causes of cancer – more than 40% of cancers are related to lifestyle choice – and to encourage people who have signs of cancer to approach their GP as early as possible.

“We will be exploring all the recommendations made in the Taskforce report and look forward to seeing an evaluation of the benefits for patients in due course.

“Timely diagnosis of cancer is a priority for the RCGP and we are delighted to have been a key voice in the Taskforce – we now need to see the implementation of any initiatives coupled with significant investment in general practice, including more GPs, so that we can ensure patients receive the care they need at every stage of their condition.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.