We are facing a perfect storm, Dr Richard Roope, a portfolio GP working in primary care told conference attendees, as he gave a GP’s perspective on ‘what’s heading our way’ in terms of future demand for imaging.
“The role of a GP is a challenging one at the moment, with three challenges in particular - demographics (an ageing population), clinical (achieving world class cancer outcomes), and structure (how it’s going to work).
"So there is a lot of work coming our way,” he said. “It would be great if the NHS is proactive now rather than reactive, which it traditionally has been.”
He continued by pointing out that although generally people’s life expectancy is increasing, unhealthy lifestyles are resulting in higher incidences of heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancers, which all put pressure on the health service; for example, the number of cancer cases is currently rising by around 1000 every year.
“Our core aims are to save thousands more lives, and transform the patient experience and quality of life.
"We have to invest now to save later, with earlier diagnoses leading to increased survival rates for cancer in particular,” said Richard.
“We must catch up with world leaders in cancer care and diagnostics,” he emphasised, which will ultimately cost the country less, but first there will be pressure on diagnostics – we are doing ‘tomorrow’s work’ today.
“General practice will not look the same by 2020; GPs need to be a more joined up primary care workforce, making every contact count. Everyone will die – that’s a fact – however, quality of life beforehand is the key; what we are aiming for is a long and healthy retirement for everyone.
“We have to invest in diagnostic capacity and need to increase screening uptake. There is going to be a lot more work for radiographers,” he warned.
“Primary care can and will play a larger role in the cancer pathway, if adequately resourced.
“We can’t change our past, but we can change our future."