Urgent investment needed in primary care to avoid preventable cancer deaths

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has urged the Government to immediately invest in primary care to help prevent thousands of cancer deaths each year.

Dr Lizzie Toberty, DAUK’s GP lead, said the UK needed more GPs and quicker access to specialists and scans to improve cancer outcomes.

She was responding to Cancer Research UK’s cancer plan, which aims to prevent 20,000 cancer deaths a year by 2040.

Dr Toberty, a GP in the north east of England, said: “We have had more than a decade of austerity, cuts to services, and underinvestment, and an under-appreciation for the skill set that exists in primary care.

“GPs are constantly getting mixed messages. We’re told we need to reduce referrals and carry more risk in order to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, while at the same time being told we’re not doing enough to ensure early diagnosis.

“We currently have a shortage of GPs in the UK and urgently need sustained investment into primary care core funding – starting now – in order to increase their numbers and to create the conditions for patients to know and trust their GP.

“And we need the funding to enable GPs to have quick access to specialists and scans within hospitals.

“We need a whole system approach based on continuity of care with a GP and ease of access to investigations and specialists.

“The UK is no where near where it should be and without the funding and investment the UK will continue to see above average deaths from cancer.”