COVID-19: 1 in 4 GPs Say Cancer Referrals Inappropriately Refused

Nicky Broyd

July 08, 2020

A survey of GPs found that around 25% believe cancer referrals were being inappropriately turned down more often during the pandemic.

medeConnect questioned 1003 regionally representative UK GPs online for Cancer Research UK between 5th and 24th June.

There were variations across the UK with up to 40% of GPs in some areas reporting what they considered to be inappropriate hospital rejections, often without adequate safety-netting in place.

'Deeply Concerning'

The charity said the refusals are likely to be due to lack of capacity and reduced access to diagnostic tests, but some hospitals may have been trying to reduce patients' exposure to COVID-19.

Cancer Research UK's Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell commented: "It’s deeply concerning that suspected cancer patients are being refused hospital appointments despite being referred by their doctor. And even more worrying that they may be slipping through the net.

"The NHS says it’s open for business, which remains a really important message to encourage people to come forward with symptoms. So, we need to be confident that patients will receive the care they need and able to reassure people that they won’t be lost in the system that is also facing a mounting backlog." 

The charity's GP advisor Dr Richard Roope added: "GPs are doing all they can during these difficult times and it’s alarming that referrals are being turned away."


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