Widow of GP who died of cancer criticises Hunt's 'name and shame' plan

The widow of a GP who died from cancer earlier this year has hit out at health secretary Jeremy Hunt's plan to 'name and shame' GPs who fail to spot the disease.

The DH plans to 'name and shame' GPs over cancer referral rates (Photo: Paul Starr)
The DH plans to 'name and shame' GPs over cancer referral rates (Photo: Paul Starr)

Mr Hunt told the Mail on Sunday that he plans to single out practices with low referral rates for cancer in an attempt to improve early detection.

In a letter to the Telegraph published on Tuesday, Barbara Seddon from Bolton in Lancashire described how her husband died after he dismissed his symptoms as tiredness from the 'stress of the job'.

She pointed out that he could have been reprimanded for not recognising his own symptoms of cancer if Jeremy Hunt's policy had been in force.

Her letter read: 'My husband, a GP for more than 20 years, went to our local A&E with symptoms of advanced cancer late last year and died in January. He had put his tiredness and lack of energy the previous summer down to the long hours and stress of his job.

'How sad to think that, under Jeremy Hunt’s proposal to name and shame GPs who fail to spot cancer, he might have been chastised for not recognising his own symptoms.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the letter showed the proposal would be a mistake. 'This is a clear illustration of how ill thought through this idea is and how it would lead to perverse outcomes,' he said.

'The result could be more referrals, more unnecessary investigations and operations and an increased risk of harm to well patients. It will also slow down the care of patients with cancer. Altogether, everyone would lose.'

A DH spokesman said: 'As part of a transparent system, we support in principle, the idea of benchmarking GP practices against each other on cancer diagnosis as a way of driving up standards.'

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