NHS England pilots 'one-stop shops' for cancer diagnosis

GPs in parts of England will be able to refer patients they suspect of having cancer to new 'one-stop shops' for cancer diagnosis, under a pilot scheme launched today.

Ten areas are piloting the new rapid cancer diagnostic and assessment centres, which will provide patients with tests for different types of cancer during one visit.

GPs in the pilot areas will be able to refer people with vague, non-specific symptoms who they think may have cancer. NHS England said the new centres would ‘end the cycle’ of patients having to be referred multiple times for different tests for different cancer by their GP.

Under the new system, which is a joint initative between NHS England, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan, some patients will receive a definitive diagnosis or all clear on the same day, while others can expect a diagnosis within two weeks, NHS England added. Those diagnosed with cancer will be referred onto specialist teams.

The ten pilot centres are located at:

  • North Middlesex University Hospital, London
  • University College London Hospital, London
  • Southend University Hospital, Essex
  • Queens Hospital, Essex
  • Royal Free Hospital, London
  • St James University Hospital, Leeds
  • Airedale General Hospital, West Yorkshire
  • University Hospital, Greater Manchester
  • Royal Oldham Hospital, Greater Manchester
  • Churchill Hospital, Oxford

Cally Palmer, NHS England's national director for cancer, said: ‘Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer in this country. These new one stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated.’

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘GPs are doing an excellent job of appropriately referring patients with cancer, with over 75% of cancer cases currently being referred after just one or two consultations. But one thing that would help improve this – and something the college has long-called for – is better access to diagnostic tools in the community. Currently our access is amongst the lowest in Europe, and we hope these centres will go some way to filling this void.

‘But as with any pilot, it is essential that the scheme is rigorously evaluated to ensure that new centres can cope with demand, and that it is beneficial for patients, and the wider NHS.

‘Ultimately, we need to see more resources and more GPs in the community, so that we can continue to deliver the best possible care to all our patients, including those with cancer, and those we suspect of having cancer.’

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