Public Health England have just released preliminary data on early cancer diagnosis, (stage 1 and 2) and Eastbourne has come bottom in the national league tables at 36% v South Cambridge at the top at 61%.
This is clearly a very significant issue, and while it is difficult to educate the population on seeing there GP quickly when symptoms occur I do believe that there are many areas where clinical practice can be improved.
For example: I do not know of any GP practice that is using point of care Ultrasound, yet in mainland Europe and the USA this is considered routine with GPs. Systems now cost less than £5k and assist greatly in early diagnosis of many conditions including cancer.
We have very expensive imaging equipment with a very high capital value and yet this equipment is used only about 50 per cent of available time while patients are having to wait several weeks for scans etc.
There is absolutely no reason why this equipment is not operated 20+ hours a day seven days a week, which is normal in most other developed countries.
The fact remains that there has to be a change in culture in the NHS and specially the local hospital trusts and GP practices.
It is very easy for them to blame everything on finances, but huge improvements can be made with a little innovative thinking and flexibility by the staff.
Maybe we should give GPs and consultants bonus based on clinical outcomes rather than GPs taking additional payments under the QOF program for taking blood pressure and telling patients to walk more.