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Continuity of care could improve cancer diagnosis rates

Proper continuity of care in primary care could reduce relays in cancer diagnosis, experts from the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) claim. 

However, recent changes to the structure of the NHS could make this hard to implement, the experts have said. 

Published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the essay claims that longer consultations and better distribution of information about referral pathways or new services could have a far-reaching impact on early diagnosis of cancer and survival. 

Over 10,000 deaths each year could be avoided if the UK's survival rates matched the best in Europe. 

Lead author, Dr Thomas Round, clinical research fellow at King's College London, said: “Early diagnosis is the result of the best interaction between patients and their GPs. Some of the interventions we are suggesting, such as longer GP consultation times, have been advocated by the Royal College of General Practitioners, and could be implemented at an individual GP and practice level. 

“However, they would be difficult to implement given recent NHS reorganisation and constrained budgets, with primary care dealing with 90% of NHS patient encounters with less than 9% of the NHS budget.” 

The report is available on the Royal Society of Medicine website.