The NHS has deployed roaming ‘liver scan trucks’ to GP practices, town centres and foodbanks from this month (June), to encourage the uptake of quick, non-invasive scans as part of a new pilot scheme.
Community pharmacists will also be able to refer patients for cancer scans and checks under the pilot, rather than patients having to wait to see their GP to be referred, in the hope that diagnosis will be sped up and workload eased at practice level.
Those with symptoms including a cough lasting for three weeks or more, difficulty swallowing or blood in their urine will be referred for scans and checks by pharmacists – without needing to see a GP – if staff think it could be cancer.
The launch of the liver scan trucks, which was announced at the NHS ConfedExpo conference in Liverpool last week (15 June), follows the rollout of similar targeted lung trucks that invite around 30,000 people for checks each month.
‘Transform’ cancer care
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the pilot was ‘another way in which the role of community pharmacy is being recognised as a vital part of NHS primary and community care’.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said that ensuring patients can access diagnosis and treatment in their communities and on high streets was ‘a fundamental part’ of the Government’ 10-Year Cancer Plan for England, expected this summer.
Ms Pritchard and Mr Javid both also used the conference to express that the current model of primary care is ‘not working’. With Mr Javid saying there is a ‘plan for change’ for pharmacy due to be set out ‘shortly’.
Experts have warned that the Covid-induced cancer backlog could lead to tens of thousands of extra deaths, with referrals of suspected cancer falling by 350,000 in March to August 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, and some 40,000 fewer people than normal starting cancer treatment.
A version of this article was first published by MIP’s sister title The Pharmacist
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Category => News