A THIRD of patients diagnosed with cancer in Basildon required repeat visits to their GP before being sent for tests, new figures have revealed.

Of 216 patients who saw their GP with symptoms, 11 made five or more visits before they were eventually sent to hospital.

And, another 24 saw their GP three or four times, while 36 visited twice. Overall, 33 per cent required repeat visits before being sent for appropriate tests.

Ruth May, NHS England’s chief nurse, said: “Patients’ satisfaction with their cancer care remains at a record high with nine out of ten patients happy with the care and support they’ve received, which is testament to the hard work and compassion of NHS staff.

“This is despite record numbers getting checked for cancer and surviving it, with 2.2 million getting checked for cancer last year. The NHS Long Term Plan will ensure that even more people receive earlier cancer checks alongside the best possible care and lifesaving new treatments.”

The latest NHS National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, completed by 324 people with cancer in the Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group area, found that dozens saw family doctors at least twice before being referred for tests last year.

Asked to rate their care on a scale from zero, very poor, to ten, very good, respondents gave an average score of 8.8 – higher than the previous year’s 8.7.

This compared to an 8.8 average rating for cancer care across England.

The annual survey, carried out on behalf of NHS England, attracted almost 74,000 responses from cancer patients across the country.

Dr Richard Roope, clinical lead for cancer for the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams also need to be mindful of onward pressures in secondary care, and often come in for criticism for over-referral, as well as not referring enough. The most effective way to address this is to give GPs and teams in primary care better access to diagnostic tools in the community, and training to use them.”