Our policy on GP access to diagnostics

Early diagnosis of cancer is vital if we are to improve our outcomes to amongst the best in Europe. Most of the time, the first stage in diagnosing cancer is a visit to the GP.

The job of a GP is an extremely difficult one – the average GP will see fewer than 8 new cases of cancer per year, and most of these will be more common cancers such as breast, bowel, lung and prostate. In addition, many of the symptoms of cancer are also symptoms of other diseases that may be more common. It is therefore vital that GPs have the appropriate tools at their disposal to make their job easier.

In Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer, the Government committed £450m to improving early diagnosis of cancer, including ensuring GPs direct access to four key diagnostic tests:

  • Chest X-Ray
  • Brain MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Colonoscopy/Flexible sigmoidoscopy

We welcomed this commitment but it is unclear how widely it has been implemented and how its impact is being measured. We would like to see more being done to ensure that GPs are aware of the availability of these tests, that they are able to access them when requested and that the effect this has on cancer outcomes is properly evaluated.


Horizon Scanning: an evaluation of imaging capacity across the NHS in England

September 2015

> Download report  or executive summary [PDF]


Scoping the Future: an evaluation of endoscopy capacity across the NHS in England

September 2015

> Download report  or executive summary [PDF]



Early Diagnosis and Access to the Best Treatment: The Key to Better Cancer Outcomes

July 2013

Download briefing [PDF]

Contact us

Get in touch with our policy team to find out more information about our policy on early diagnosis.

Call our policy team for more information.

020 3469 8360 

Email the team

Local stats

For your local stats, tailored for your constituency, visit the Local Cancer Statistics website. 

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