NICE skin cancer surgery guidance 'too restrictive'

The implementation of NICE guidance is preventing GPs from treating basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) in primary care.

Instead, the guidance is forcing GPs in England to refer patients unnecessarily on to secondary care services.

A number of LMCs in various PCT areas raised concerns about this NICE guidance at a GPC meeting this month.

The NICE guidance on improving outcomes for people with skin tumours including melanoma was published in February 2006 and is due for implementation this year. It recommends that patients with low risk BCCs be diagnosed and treated by local hospital skin cancer specialists.

Dr Mike Parks, medical secretary at Kent LMC, said: 'PCTs in east and coastal Kent tried to implement the NICE guidance but had to backtrack due to the problems that were caused.

'It prevents GPs from performing minor surgery to treat patients with BCCs. Instead, they have to refer the patients on to specialist dermatology services. This resulted in dermatology clinics being swamped with extra patients.'

But BCCs can be easily treated by GPs and do not require secondary care, he said.

The NICE guidance needs to be revised before it can be implemented, added Dr Parks.

A NICE spokeswoman said that the guidance was not under review.

NICE guidance

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