It has been reported that GPs are to face being named and shamed should they repeatedly fail in spotting cancer in their patients. According to the Mail on Sunday, doctors would be marked out by a red flag on an NHS website should they be deemed to have been missing too many cases or patients having to make repeated visits before they are referred for tests.
Practices would be given a green rating should they have quick referral times for patients who have shown signs of having cancer. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has said that tough actions needs to be taken so that standards at practices which have poor cancer referral rates can be brought into line with practices which have the highest standards.
R Hunt told the newspaper, ‘We need to do much better. 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.’
This news has come as concerns have been raised by senior Conservatives about the future of the NHS should significant new funding not be ploughed in so that it can cope with increasing demands which it is facing.
According to The Observer, Stephen Dorrell, a former Health Secretary, said that he would be ashamed if the Government failed to inject money into the NHS at a time when the economy is growing. Mr Dorrell said ‘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’.
Sarah Wollaston, a GP who is now the chair of 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.’
Jamie Reed, Shadow health minister, 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.’