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GP's 'prevented' from directly referring cancer patients

An investigation has found that half of GPs are prevented from directly referring suspected bowel or brain cancer patients for scans.

Patients face a "postcode lottery" of services due to restrictions imposed by some clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), according to GP magazine, which carried out the study.

GP's 'prevented' from directly referring cancer patients. Credit: PA

Freedom of Information (FOI) responses from 182 CCGs, which organise the delivery of NHS services in England, found 49% barred GPs from directly accessing MRI scans for suspected brain cancer patients.

Meanwhile, 50% of CCGs said they did not commission direct access to flexible sigmoidoscopy tests in cases of suspected bowel cancer, the study found.

Judge allows surgeons to operate on boy who won't eat

A judge has given specialists the go-ahead to carry out exploratory surgery on a teenager who refuses to eat or drink and has lost a "worrying" amount of weight.

Mrs Justice Pauffley ruled that the 16-year-old boy, who has learning difficulties, did not have the mental capacity to make decisions about his medical treatment.

She gave surgeons, who fear he could die, permission to investigate in the ruling at the Court of Protection in London.

The judge said the boy and the hospital where he was being cared for could not be identified.

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New drugs from labs 'as quickly and safely possible'

Officials said the review would examine how precision medicine and digital health technology could enable new products to be brought from the laboratory "as quickly and safely possible".

"This will transform the landscape of drug development from the 20th-century model to a world century model to a world in which the NHS becomes a partner in innovative testing, proving and adopting new drugs and devices in research studies with real patients," Mr Freeman told The Times.

"For too long NHS patients have seen drugs and innovations developed in the UK but not adopted here in our NHS.

"We are determined to unlock the power of our NHS to be a test-bed for the 21st-century medical innovations we all need, getting NHS patients faster access, reducing the cost of drug development and boosting our life science sector."

Plan to cut time taken for patients to receive new drugs

Ministers are promising to cut years off the time it takes for National Health Service patients to receive life-saving new drugs.

The Government is launching a review looking into a radical overhaul of the way that promising new drugs are tested and cleared for approval.

Plan to cut time taken for patients to receive new drugs. Credit: PA

Life sciences minister George Freeman said unlocking the power of the NHS to be a "test-bed" for new medical innovations could dramatically reduce the time it takes for patients to gain access to new treatments.

The Department of Health said a fresh approach was being made possible by ground-breaking developments in genomics and digital technology.

Obesity cost 'more than violence, war and terrorism'

The authors of a report into obesity have called called for a "coordinated response" from governments, retailers, restaurants and food and drink manufacturers to address the "global obesity crisis".

A series of 44 interventions could bring 20% of overweight or obese people in UK back to normal weight within five to 10 years, the report said. This would save around #16 billion a year in UK, including an annual saving of about £766 million in the NHS, according to the study.

Obesity is a major global economic problem caused by a multitude of factors. Today obesity is jostling with armed conflict and smoking in terms of having the greatest human-generated global economic impact. The global economic impact of obesity is increasing. The evidence suggests that the economic and societal impact of obesity is deep and lasting.

– McKinsey and Company report

The report found the economic impact from smoking in the UK was £57 billion in 2012, or 3.6% of GDP, while the country suffered a £43 billion annual loss from armed violence, war and terrorism or 2.5% of GDP.

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Obesity costing UK economy £47 billion report finds

A report has found that obesity is a greater burden on the UK's economy than armed violence, war and terrorism, costing the country nearly £47 billion a year.

Obesity costing UK economy £47 billion report finds. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Image

The study, commissioned by consultancy firm McKinsey and Company, revealed obesity has the second-largest economic impact on the UK behind smoking, generating an annual loss equivalent to 3% of GDP.

Health chief: 'Not always easy for GPs to spot cancer'

It is "not always easy for GPs to spot cancer" a health expert has warned as fresh guidelines are put forward to help doctors spot cancer early on.

Clinical practice director of Nice - who are behind the updated recommendations - Professor Mark Baker, warned there were hundreds of different types of cancer making it "unrealistic" to always expect a diagnosis early.

There are more than 200 different types of the disease so it is unrealistic to expect them to know every single sign and symptom of each one, especially when they only see a handful of new cases a year.

Research carried out in general practice in recent years gives us better evidence about which signs and symptoms best predict cancer, and all this is captured in our draft updated guidance.

We are updating our guideline to make things as simple as possible for GPs to consider the possibility of cancer and refer people to the right service at the right time. Early referral and diagnosis can help save lives.

– Professor Mark Baker

Guidelines provide 'clear recommendations for tests'

New NHS guidelines for spotting cancer early will include clear recommendations for tests and waiting times for specialists referrals, health experts have revealed.

Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will have:

  • How long people should wait to be seen by a specialist once they have been referred to hospital.
  • They range from two weeks to 48 hours or sooner, depending on the patient's symptoms.
  • New recommendations about "safety netting" will also advise GPs how and when to review people with a symptom associated with a risk of cancer but who do not meet the usual criteria for referral, to ensure cancer is not missed.
  • Nice will also update its information for the public to help people identify possible signs of cancer and encourage them to visit their GP sooner.

The updated guidance is expected to be published in May 2015 following a consultation.

Fresh guidelines for doctors to 'help spot cancer early'

Healthcare professionals will be given more help to spot the early signs of cancer and hopefully save more lives, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has said.

Lynda Bellingham had spoken of her wish to have one last Christmas with her family. Credit: PA

The advisory board has published draft guidelines for GPs based on recent evidence about which symptoms "best predict cancer".

Late diagnosis could be costing thousands of lives every year in England and Wales, according to Nice.

In a separate but related move, Lynda Bellingham's son, Michael Peluso, spoke publicly about how he believes her life would have been saved had she had a colonoscopy. The actress died from colon cancer last month.

The 31-year-old told the Mirror: "She was a massive champion for getting a colonoscopy. It would have saved her life.

"They missed it so much. She had two stool tests, a blood test and they never found it. She was carrying cancer for 18 months before she discovered she had it."

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