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One in five Newham cancer patients are only diagnosed after emergency hospital visit

PUBLISHED: 13:00 23 July 2019

Figures reveal more than a fifth of Newham cancer patients are only diagnosed after an emergency visit to hospital, Picture: PA Images / Lynne Cameron.

Figures reveal more than a fifth of Newham cancer patients are only diagnosed after an emergency visit to hospital, Picture: PA Images / Lynne Cameron.

PA Wire/PA Images

More than one in five cancer patients in Newham are only diagnosed after an emergency visit to hospital, figures reveal.

Public Health England (PHE) says people with cancer stand a much slimmer chance of surviving when their diagnosis comes via an emergency admission, compared to other routes.

The latest PHE data shows in 2018, 823 patients were admitted to hospital with cancer in the NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area.

Of them, 184 (22 per cent) were admitted as an emergency, rather than through routes such as screening programmes or routine GP referrals.

Patients diagnosed in this way are more likely to have more advanced and difficult to treat cancers.

A spokesman for the Newham CCG said: "Along with our local partners, improving cancer diagnosis rates is a key priority for the CCG Cancer Team.

"We recognise there is work to be done and are currently looking at ways to ensure patients in Newham are seen and diagnosed earlier.

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"As part of this we are working closely with colleagues in Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets and our trust, Barts Health, to speed up the referral process, so GPs can send their patients directly to specialist clinics much sooner.

"We have also funded organisations to improve our bowel screening rates and public understanding of the key signs and symptoms."

The CCG is recruiting for a specialist Macmillan-funded GP to work with colleagues in the borough to raise awareness of cancer and develop their knowledge and skills so GPs can identify patients who need to be referred to hospital urgently.

The role also supports community group meetings where the importance of screening is discussed.

"A Cancer Research UK facilitator attends practices in Newham to discuss cancer and early diagnosis with our GPs," the spokesman added.

Across England, about 19 per cent of cancer patients admitted to hospital arrived as an emergency case last year.

The rate has declined since 2010, when it was 22pc.

PHE head of cancer analysis Lucy Elliss-Brookes said: "Patients with cancer presenting as an emergency have significantly worse survival rates, so it is encouraging to see these figures continuing to fall.

"However, we know there is variation across England and that some people are still waiting too long to go and see their GP with symptoms that could suggest cancer."

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