Saturday, November 22, 2008

10,000 Britons die needlessly every year as NHS doctors with out-of-date training miss vital cancer symptoms

More than 10,000 people die needlessly each year because their cancers are not diagnosed in time, a study says. The charity Cancer Research UK found GPs too often miss symptoms or do not send enough patients for tests. In some cases their training is simply out of date. The report says some people are deterred from seeking treatment by the difficulty of getting an appointment.

And there is too little public awareness about cancer symptoms, meaning many victims do not see their GP until it is too late to save their lives. The result is that Britain's survival rates for cancer are still the worst in Western Europe, despite the billions poured into the Health Service by Labour. Only 53 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men with cancer survive for more than five years.

Of 14 major countries compared by the charity, Britain came 11th for women and 12th for men, alongside Poland and Slovenia. If our rates were as good as the best in Europe, the report says, there would be 10,744 fewer deaths a year.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Coleman said: 'We know many cases are being diagnosed too late and this is a major reason for our poor survival rates.' He said many GPs were not up to date on cancer treatment, and family doctors with an average practice size saw only around eight new cancer cases a year. 'Some GPs would benefit from guidance on identifying patients more successfully,' he said.

Another problem was access, said Professor Coleman. 'Patients find it difficult to make appointments or park their cars, and many are worried about taking time off work and losing money.' Only a half of GP practices see patients outside working hours - and even these open for an average of only three more hours a week.

The failure of GPs comes despite their pay soaring by more than 50 per cent - to over 100,000 pounds - since a new contract was agreed in 2004. They are also working fewer hours a week.

Better survival rates in Europe are partly due to the fact that patients in many countries can have direct access to a specialist, while in Britain they must go through their GP.

The Government's cancer 'czar', Professor Mike Richards, said: 'We want to work with GPs to find out which patients and which symptoms they are most likely to miss. They need to be more alert and send people for tests much earlier.'

Britain's poor record has also been blamed on drug rationing by NICE - which can take up to 18 months to decide whether the NHS should fund new treatments - and low spending on cancer drugs, 76 pounds a head a year, compared to 143 in Germany and 121 in France.

Professor Karol Sikora, professor of cancer medicine at London's Imperial College, said last night the low survival rates were a failure of the whole NHS, not just GPs. He said: 'People have to wait too long for scans and biopsies. There is undercapacity in radiography and chemotherapy. 'We don't get access to the drugs they get in Europe. Huge amounts of money have been thrown at cancer over the past decade so it is surprising to see these problems are still here. 'The main culprit is the NHS itself - it's a bureaucratic monolith.'



Mike said...

We just lost our 9 year old to cancer. What we learned and saw is so disheartening. We were at Seattle Childrens, they would prescribe all kinds of long as it came from a Pharmaceutical company....they charged us out ragous amounts...for ancient AMA approved proceedures....then the insurance company would pay about 10 to 20%.

the only real good insurance was, was getting in the door. so now we have a dead child..debt up the wazzoo and piles and piles of bills and other bs...its just nuts. so when they talk about insuring everyone...I LAUGH ...because they do not care about our is rigged to make a lot of money for mega corporations.

On a positive note ....the nurses that helped us were absolutely the heart and soul of that hospital.

I kinda kept a journal is the link/adress

Anonymous said...

The article assumes the goal of the NHS is to cure those patients, when in reality it's to kill them as quickly as possible.

Killing them is the cheapest solution to their condition, and in socialist healthcare the cheapest solution is always the one chosen.

Of course this isn't written down so boldly in any one document.
But take "targets", "quota", "budget requirements", etc. etc. together and it's the blatantly obvious conclusion that the goal of the NHS is not to treat patients but to get rid of them as cheaply as possible as quickly as possible.
And with cancer (and other conditions requiring longterm, expensive, treatment) killing the patient is that cheapest, quickest, solution.
As starting up euthanisia clinics for the ill and old isn't going to sit well, the next best thing is to defer diagnosis until the condition is terminal and at that point withhold medication as "too expensive" or "ineffective", giving the patient instead a choice of a "dignified death without further suffering".