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Pharmacists to refer patients for scans rather waiting for GP

A new pilot scheme will see people with worrying symptoms, such as blood in their urine, referred for scans and checks by their pharmacist, rather than having to wait to see their GP.

With an aim to help diagnose more cancers early, the pilot scheme in England will see high street pharmacy staff spot signs of cancer in people who might not have noticed symptoms.

Those with symptoms including a cough that lasts for three weeks or more, difficulty swallowing or blood in their urine will be referred directly for scans and if staff think it could be cancer.

‘Roaming trucks’ from the NHS will also be sent to public locations to perform on-the-spot scans in the community for those with potential cancerous symptoms. Vans with lung scanners have already been pulling up in supermarket car parks and football stadiums to provide checks to those patients who may be worried.

These NHS ‘one stop shops’ have already delivered over one million checks and tests, including for cancer, since the rollout began, offering MRI, CT and other services closer to patients’ homes, often in the heart of local communities.

The plan is for on-the-spot liver scans to also take place from this month for people most at risk of getting liver cancer, as the number of people being diagnosed with liver cancer has doubled over the last decade.

The pilot scheme was launched by the NHS as, although around half of cancers are currently being diagnosed early, the NHS wants this to be at least three-quarters.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said:

We’re pleased to see investment in innovative models of care, such as referrals from community pharmacy teams and mobile scanners. By changing the way people engage with the health service, we have the potential to help diagnose more cancers at an earlier, more treatable stage. We look forward to seeing how these efforts will support the NHS’s ambitious early diagnosis targets.

Hundreds of people are expected to be scanned in the community as the mobile scanners visit GP practices, town centres, and foodbanks to encourage the uptake of quick, non-invasive scans.

The pilot scheme comes after new technology was recently launched for GPs to take photos of moles and lesions to detect skin cancer. Doctors in the North West were the first in the country to capture the clinical images using a smartphone app.

How can Potter Rees Dolan help you?

Our specialist solicitors  are here to help if you have suffered as a result of a delay or error in the diagnosis of cancer. If you believe you are entitled to compensation due to clinical negligence relating to the diagnosis of your cancer, call us on 0800 027 2557. If you’d prefer to send us a message, please use our online enquiry form.