NHS England announced in November 2022 that, all GP practices across the country now have direct access to book cancer tests for their patients.
Under the Direct Access scheme, GPs will be able to order CT scans, ultrasounds or brain MRIs for patients with concerning cancer symptoms who fall outside the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) threshold for an urgent suspected cancer referral. This means that around 67,000 people who are usually diagnosed with cancer through non-urgent testing will now be eligible for fast-tracking.
At Reframe, we welcome this development as a great step towards getting people seen sooner. Earlier diagnoses will decrease the number of invasive treatments, resulting in better recovery, better quality of life, and the likelihood of a better outcome.
Around one in five cancer cases are detected after routine testing following referral to a hospital specialist, which some people have previously had to wait many weeks for. By allowing GPs to now order these checks directly, wait times can be cut down to as little as four weeks. This new pace will significantly increase the range of treatment options available to patients, help to cut waiting times and contribute to tens of thousands of cancers being detected sooner each year.
According to Cancer Research UK, many common cancer survival rates triple when diagnosed at an early stage. Encouraging uptake of the national cancer screening programmes saves around 10,000 lives a year and by sending patients straight to testing, it will help to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan ambitions to diagnose three-quarters of total cancers at an early stage. This is particularly important for those who suffer from vague symptoms, previously facing long waits for tests or to see hospital specialists/medics, with subsequent delays in getting their first treatment.
With cancer rates rising and Macmillan highlighting that 85% of employees diagnosed with cancer say continuing their work is important to them, it is likely that more employers and employees will be impacted by cancer in the coming years. We urge companies, who haven’t already done so, to establish strategies and policies for managing employees with cancer and reintroducing employees back to work after treatment. With the help of data, you can ensure that strategies are evidence-based and spend is directed in areas where it will have the most impact. We are also aware that there is a need for managers to understand and be able to communicate the healthcare benefits available to employees with cancer and be able to signpost them to support services and information about treatment and working options.
At Reframe, we provide support to anyone touched by cancer. We believe it is important to have the right support at the beginning of your cancer pathway. For those who have Reframe cover, we encourage you to consult us as soon as your GP has said you need a diagnostic scan.
Reframe support is available for individuals, through relisted employee benefit packages at work, and some critical illness and life insurance policies. Call us now on 0207 965 0309 to find out if you have cover or how we can help.