GPs with a poor record of spotting cancer could be “exposed” under plans that have been slammed by doctors’ leaders.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for a new system of publically naming doctors who have failed to send patients for potentially life-saving scans.
GP surgeries could also be ranked on how quickly they spot cases of cancer.
But the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said the proposed system could lead to GPs sending people to specialists indiscriminately.
And Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee said that naming and shaming GPs would not help patients.
In an interview with BBC News he said: “We need to look at the whole system and if you simply name and shame GPs, the tendency would be for us to refer everyone.
“That can be a disadvantage because if we clog up hospital outpatient clinics, we’ll get patients who need to see their specialist actually having to wait longer.”
Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons health select committee and former GP, agreed that the proposed system could create “impossibly long lists” to see specialists.
Jeremy Hunt said: “Cancer diagnosis levels around the country vary significantly and we must do much more to improve both the level of diagnosis and to bring those GP practices with poor referral rates up to the standards of the best.”