Should GP’s be named and shamed?

GP image

Plans for GP’s who fail to spot cancer early enough being publicly named under discussion

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to introduce a new scheme where doctors who don’t spot cancer symptoms early enough could be publicly named on the NHS website.

Mr Hunt aims to expose GP’s who fail to refer potential cancer patients quickly enough, causing delays to life-saving scans. The move is being suggested after a NHS survey last year revealed that a quarter of patients eventually diagnosed with cancer  had seen their GP at least three times before being referred to a specialist. Other proposals being put forward include ranking surgeries on how fast they spot cancer cases, and doctors who miss too many cases could be marked with a red flag.

“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,” Mr Hunt told BBC News.

Cancer diagnosis

The ideas have come under attack as the The Royal College of GP’s labels the plans as “crude”, warning that hospitals could potentially be inundated with healthy people, as GP’s refer too many patients to avoid backlash. This in turn could lengthen queues and waiting times, causing delays for urgent cancer patients.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association general practitioners committee, said “We need to look at the whole system and if you simply name and shame GP’s, the tendency would be for us to refer everyone. And that can be a disadvantage because if we clog up hospital outpatient clinics, we’ll get patients who need to see their specialist actually having to wait longer.”