Asking GPs to take pictures of skin cancer referrals ‘implies doubt’ about clinical judgement, warns RCGP

NHS North Durham CCG, NHS Durham Dales, NHS Easington and Sedgefield CCG, and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust have been leading on a project for GPs to submit photographs to support skin cancer referrals.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to news “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.”