Asking GPs to take pictures of skin cancer referrals 'implies doubt' about clinical judgement, warns College

Publication date: 09 April 2019

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to news that GPs in the North East of England will be required to submit photographs with any referrals for skin cancer.

She said: "Deaths from malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are increasing more than any other cancer, so identifying skin cancer at the most timely stage possible leads to better health outcomes and, potentially, saves lives.

"However, introducing this extra step to the process of urgent referrals implies doubt about GPs' clinical judgment and risks adding substantial delays to the process.

"It is vital that all new initiatives are piloted carefully and appropriately funded before roll-out to ensure patient safety and prevent significant adverse impact on GP workload.

"Unlike many other cancers, skin cancer is often visible, and  better access to diagnostic tools like dermatoscopes in our practices, along with the training to use them, is welcome.

"GPs are already doing a good job of appropriately referring patients we suspect of having cancer, but we need proper resources if we are to continue to deliver the best possible care to all our patients, both now and in the future."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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