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Will cancer diagnostic tech in GP practices help?

A Labour government would invest £150m a year in cancer diagnostic infrastructure in GP practices, the party’s leader Ed Miliband announced. The new funding, every year from 2016/17, would make it possible to carry out most cancer tests in practices by ensuring the equipment is available in every town, he said. Here’s the BMA response:

“We support any measures that can help to increase the early detection of cancer. However, while further investment is always welcome, we must avoid the trap of thinking that new equipment and simple tests will allow quicker access and better results.

“For many cancers, the diagnosis is not a case of a simple test that gives a yes or no answer. The symptoms can be complex and a diagnosis or suspicion of cancer is often arrived at by observing a clinical history and examination which needs sufficient time in consultations.

“GPs are constrained by having to see patients in short 10 minute appointments due to unprecedented demand with a shortage in numbers of GPs nationally.

“In order for this new proposal for testing equipment to be successful, we must ensure that we have enough GPs and specialised staff to consult with a patient, diagnose their symptoms, refer them for the appropriate tests, and interpret the results.

“It is equally important that at a time when the NHS is under unprecedented pressure, we provide a holistic service and ensure rapid access to all services for all conditions.”

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