GPs blame NICE guidance for skin cancer surgery waits

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 onto secondary care services.

A number of LMCs in various PCT areas raised concerns about the NICE skin cancer 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 but is due for implementation this year.

The guidance 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 because of the problems that were caused.

‘The guidance prevents GPs from performing minor surgery to treat patients with BCCs. 

‘Instead, they have to refer the patients on to specialist dermatology services for treatment. This resulted in dermatology clinics being swamped with extra patients.'

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

A NICE spokeswoman said the guidance was not under review.

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