Pharmacists to help check for cancer cases to help out GPs


It is hoped that giving pharmacists more power to send patients for cancer scans and tests will help improve the speed of diagnosis for many patients.

People with symptoms including a cough that lasts for three weeks or more, difficulty swallowing or blood in their urine will be able to see a pharmacist and be referred directly for scans and checks without needing to see a GP.

Hundreds of pharmacists in England will take part in the pilot scheme and pharmacies will be invited to apply to be involved soon.

Meanwhile, the NHS also announced plans to launch “roaming liver trucks” which will offer people on-the-spot scans for those at risk of liver cancer.

Pharmacists being able to send patients for cancer scans should improve the speed of diagnosis (PA)

Quick scans will be offered to hundreds of people at GP practices, town centres and food banks.

It follows the success of “lung trucks”, which have led to more than 30,000 people being invited for lung checks every month at locations in the community including supermarket car parks and football stadiums.

The NHS said this had led to hundreds of cancers being caught earlier.

Elsewhere, the health service also announced plans to offer genetic screening to people in Jewish communities at high risk of having a genetic mutation linked to a higher risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancers.

NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard will announce the initiatives at the NHS ConfedExpo conference in Liverpool.

Addressing the meeting, she will say: “The NHS will not rest in our efforts to catch cancer early and save more lives.

“Throughout the pandemic, NHS staff developed new and innovative ways to ensure patients could get cancer checks and treatment as normal, including by providing Covid-safe drugs and delivering chemo at home.

“NHS staff have continued this innovation; from liver trucks travelling around the country to genetic testing and high-street checks, we want to make it as easy as possible for those most at risk to get vital, lifesaving tests.

“These plans have the power to truly transform the way we find and treat cancer, and ultimately spare thousands of patients and their families from avoidable pain and loss.”

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