On 23rd November 2016, the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has published a report, which shows pathology service in the UK are struggling to cope with the increasing number of samples taken from people being tested for cancer.
The report says growing demand on services, along with an ageing population and decreasing staff numbers has created a “diagnostic bottleneck” which will get worse if urgent action is not taken. As well as analysis of biopsies and blood tests, other cancer tests such as endoscopies and scans could also be under threat.
Up to 70% of healthcare decisions taken in the National Health Service (NHS) depends on pathology-based tests and investigations. Professional's fear that the lack of qualified pathologists could hamper in early identification of cancer, along with the identification of other conditions.
Pathologists not only diagnose cancer but also play an important role in preventing, treating and monitoring the patient condition, and are at the frontline of cancer research.
The CRUK’s director of policy, Emma Greenwood said the Diagnostic services, including pathology, immediately need support and funding to make sure that diagnoses aren’t delayed and patients benefit from the latest treatment.
She further added that the UK’s cancer survival is lagging behind other European countries and improving early diagnosis through diagnostic services is one of the best ways to address this problem. The diagnostic bottleneck will just get worse without action immediately and this includes addressing staff shortages in endoscopy, imaging and pathology.
A spokesman from Department of Health said the early and fast diagnosis is vital in improving patient outcomes and experience. Getting pathology test results to patients quickly is a main part of this. It is the reason behind government investment over £2.5 billion on effective and robust pathology services across the NHS.
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