15th June 2022

Lung cancer charity welcomes pharmacy referral scheme

View all Early detection

People with potential cancer symptoms, including a persistent cough, will soon be able to be referred for tests and scans directly by a pharmacist, without needing to see their GP.

In a new pilot scheme in England, selected high street pharmacies will be funded to refer people for relevant checks, such as x-rays for potential lung cancer symptoms, with the aim to diagnose more cancers at the earliest opportunity by making it ‘as easy as possible for those most at risk to get vital, lifesaving tests’.

Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. She welcomes the move and hopes it will see more people benefit from an earlier diagnosis.

“Anything we can do to speed up the way people are diagnosed with lung cancer is a good thing, so we are pleased NHS England is piloting this new scheme.

We know, in some areas, patients are still struggling to see their GP but even before the pandemic, the route to a lung cancer diagnosis was littered with obstacles.

“We repeatedly hear people with symptoms, such as a persistent cough or unexplained breathlessness, enduring multiple visits to their doctors before being referred for an x-ray or CT scan. These extra weeks, months and, in some cases, years, can be the difference between an early diagnosis when lung cancer is easier to treat, or incurable disease.

“This is a significant change in which people can engage with the health service and could help those in harder to reach communities access the support and care they need. We look forward to seeing these in action and hope they take us a step closer to achieving the NHS’s early diagnosis targets.”