GPs vital in cutting the number of people missing appointments

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 January 2011

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DOCTORS are being asked to put more pressure on 
suspected cancer patients who are not attending 'urgent' hospital appointments.

Weston General Hospital and NHS North Somerset have turned to GPs in a bid to increase the chances of survival for people who are found with cancer symptoms.

It follows a second month when nearly 20 per cent of patients who were suspected of having breast cancer failed to turn up to hospital for diagnosis within two weeks.

Nine per cent of people with symptoms of all cancers also failed to be seen by a specialist within the target 14 days.

The figures represent continued underachievement for the hospital, which launched an investigation into the situation last month.

A report to board members this month says: “With the support of NHS North Somerset we have drafted a letter to GPs asking for their cooperation to discuss appropriate bookings of appointments with patients to prevent rescheduling at a later date.”

The author claimed the majority of two-week breaches were patients waiting for an endoscopy.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Too often we diagnose cancer late in this country, so we encourage people to attend their 
referral appointments promptly if there is any suspicion of cancer.

“The disease is easier to treat successfully if it is detected early and an appointment with an expert is a crucial first step in getting a speedy cancer diagnosis.”

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