GPs' referral system under fire

Figures obtained by The Herald under the Freedom of Information Act show that the system of referral which requires GPs to label patients as urgent or non-urgent results in some cancer patients being on the non-urgent list.

The Herald says that problem is that GPs must decide whether a case is urgent or not before diagnosis. In many cases their judgment, based on a general examination and evaluation of risk factors, will be correct, but the Herald's figures show that, every year, well over 1000 people who were not urgent referrals were diagnosed with breast and bowel cancer alone. The discrepancies between the urgent and non-urgent patients were particularly marked for bowel cancer patients, with the non-urgent cases having to wait from seven to 16 weeks longer in different health boards.

The cancer divide (The Herald, 14 October 2007)