A government adviser has urged patients to go private for bowel cancer tests, after it emerges that half of local authorities are failing to provide them fast enough.
Dr Nick Summerton, an advisor on the Department of Health’s early cancer diagnosis panel, has said that some patients are waiting months for bowel cancer tests because the NHS capacity is saturated. He said:
"I had a patient recently and it was three months before he got his test. He subsequently died of bowel cancer."
He said that patients should have the opportunity to pay for faster access to bowel cancer tests if they were not deemed clinically urgent enough to have one within two weeks.
Endoscopy tests check for bowel cancer tumours and potentially cancerous growths called polyps.
But despite millions of pounds of extra government funding to pay for better cancer tests, a survey by GP magazine has found that only 47 of 94 primary care trusts (PCTs) said they had invested extra in 2011-12.
Of the 47 that had not, 85 per cent said they did not expect to expand capacity over the following year.
Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, said diagnostic waiting times were "going in the wrong direction" under the Coalition. He said:
"There are now more than twice as many people waiting longer than six weeks for endoscopy tests compared to May 2010."
Patients with health insurance will be covered for private diagnostic tests and scans on their policy. However, without private medical insurance self-pay patients could fork out up to £1,880 for a private colonoscopy.
With private medical insurance costing as little as £15 a month, it could be a wise idea to compare policies online now. Simply type in your details and use our comparison system to find suitable cover at the best price.
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