Modernising NHS cancer screening
A newly released report calls on the NHS to take the chance to upgrade cancer screening programmes and make them more user-friendly. If this can be done, thousands of lives each year could be saved.
Professor Sir Mike Richards was jointly commissioned by the NHS and Health & Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock MP to make recommendations on overhauling national screening programmes, as part of a new NHS drive for earlier diagnosis and improved cancer survival.
The report recommends that people be given much greater choice over when and where they are screened.
For example, people should be able to choose appointments at doctors’ surgeries, health centres or locations close to their work during lunchtime or other breaks rather than having to attend their own GP practice. Local screening services should put on extra evening and weekend appointments for breast, cervical and other cancer checks.
Sir Mike’s report also called for more to be done to drive uptake through social media campaigns and text reminders.
The Government has already committed £200 million to replace old diagnostic imaging equipment. Sir Mike noted that this should be supported by an upgrade of NHS IT systems, including the use of artificial intelligence.
Sir Mike commented, “Screening programmes are a vital way for the NHS to save more lives through prevention and earlier diagnosis and currently they save around 10,000 lives every year – that is something to be immensely proud of. Yet we know that they are far from realising their full potential – people live increasingly busy lives and we need to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to attend these important appointments”.Brain Tumour Research was pleased to note that screening programmes would be designed in a manner that could facilitate future research studies, as more research is key to developing better treatments across all types of cancers.
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