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Lack of communication between primary and secondary care risks the lives of lung cancer patients

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Practice nurses could be better linked to multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and there should be better communication between secondary and primary care, according to the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC).

Its research published today (Tuesday 20 November) found both patients and members of the primary care team are not always up to speed at spotting lung cancer symptoms - and may not have rapid access to local diagnostic services - which could be threatening patient lives.

It's report The Dream MDT for lung cancer sets out to challenge lung cancer practices - and exceed NICE guidelines - by setting out 30 'aspirational' but hard-hitting recommendations for lung cancer services across the country.

Its proposals suggest GPs should receive more timely information from hospitals regarding their patients; better access to risk assessment tools and diagnostic services; and where x-rays are normal but a suspicion of lung cancer remains, GPs should have access to refer a patient to a lung cancer clinic within one week.

The report was developed following an extensive, nationwide consultation across the lung cancer community, which included primary care physicians.

Dr Mick Peake, NHS national clinical lead for lung cancer and consultant respiratory physician, who heads up the UKLCC's clinical advisory group, said: 'This report identifies a gold-standard practice for lung cancer - the sort of care healthcare professionals would wish for their own families. It is intended to stimulate discussion and sets out a number of standards for lung cancer MDTs to benchmark against their own current practices. As many as a third of UK lung cancer patients still do not have their case discussed by an MDT made up of the full range of experts in some parts of the country. And GPs are not always fully informed of patient treatment and progress. This simply isn't good enough.'

There are almost 35,000 deaths from lung cancer every year, which amounts to a greater death toll than breast cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer and leukaemia combined.

  • For a copy of 'The Dream MDT for lung cancer: delivering lung cancer care and outcomes' visit www.uklcc.org.uk

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