Theresa May warned over long waits for cancer scans

Radiologists have written to prime minister Theresa May warning that NHS services are in a 'dire state' and demanding urgent investment to reduce delays for the 250,000 patients waiting more than a month for results of cancer scans.

GPs have repeatedly highlighted problems with access to diagnostics in recent years and backed calls for investment to improve their direct access to scans and X-rays.

In a letter to the prime minister today, the Royal College of Radiologists backs a warning earlier this week from another royal college. The letter said: 'The Royal College of Physicians’ view that the NHS is underfunded, underdoctored and overstretched, is borne out in the 250,000 patients currently waiting over a month for the results of their imaging studies and the poor cancer outcomes in this country.'

It calls for a 'sustained programme of investment in imaging and radiotherapy equipment' to tackle the existing shortfall.

GP cancer scans

Official data show that one in four tests to rule out cancer were from direct GP referrals in 2015/16, but the GPC warned last year that despite these encouraging figures, in many areas access to scans was getting worse, not better.

An expert cancer taskforce report backed by NHS England recommended that all GPs should have direct access to six key cancer tests - including MRI and CT scans - by the end of 2015.

GPonline reported last year that nearly one in three GPs had seen referrals on the two-week cancer pathway downgraded to non-urgent or bounced back, and that in many areas direct GPaccess to scans was being withdrawn because of soaring pressure on diagnostic services.

Photo: iStock

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