Doctors Warn Cancer Criticism Could Ruin the NHS

Doctors are warning that the government’s planned naming and shaming of medical professionals, on NHS websites, who have demonstrated poor cancer referral rates will overwhelm GP surgeries.

The head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr Maureen Baker, said the exposés would result in doctors referring all of their cancer patients just to remove any possibility of blame being laid at their door.

Another letter that has been signed by hundreds of protesting doctors said the naming and shaming plans were bullying tactics by the government and could result in ‘bankrupting’ the NHS.
Under the new plans, companies involved in NHS website design could be told to put a red flag alongside doctors’ names if they were found to have consistently missed the signs of cancer in their patients. On the other hand, practices that demonstrated quick referral times for people who doctors suggest might have cancer would be given a green rating.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, defended the proposed plans, stating that tough action needed to be taken to improve the standards of practices that were failing their cancer patients. 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 standard of the best.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the UK’s cancer outcomes are far behind some European countries and that a transparent NHS service would drive up standards in GP practices.