GPs taking photos of potential skin cancer ‘implies doubt about clinical judgement’

The RCGP has responded to the news that GPs will now be required to take photos of possible skin cancer

A decision to have GPs take photos of possible skin cancer has proven controversial.

From now on, GPs will have to take photographs of the skin on their mobile phone as well as with a dermatoscope.

Specialists then review the images and decide whether the matter is urgent.

Health professionals at all levels have expressed concern that deadly cases could be missed this way.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has added that asking GPs to take photos implies doubt regarding their clinical judgement.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said:

“Deaths from malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are increasing more than any other cancer, so identifying skin cancer at the most timely stage possible leads to better health outcomes and, potentially, saves lives.

“However, introducing this extra step to the process of urgent referrals implies doubt about GPs’ clinical judgement and risks adding substantial delays to the process.

“It is vital that all new initiatives are piloted carefully and appropriately funded before roll-out to ensure patient safety and prevent significant adverse impact on GP workload.

“Unlike many other cancers, skin cancer is often visible, and  better access to diagnostic tools like dermatoscopes in our practices, along with the training to use them, is welcome.

“GPs are already doing a good job of appropriately referring patients we suspect of having cancer, but we need proper resources if we are to continue to deliver the best possible care to all our patients, both now and in the future.”

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