This area provides information and resources for Primary Care Professionals and Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to support the early identification and referral of patients with suspected cancer. 

Given the shared focus on Early Cancer Diagnosis within both the Directed Enhanced Services (DES) Specification, and Cancer Quality and Outcomes Framework Quality Improvement indicators (QOF QI) this section specifically outlines national and local resources to support PCNs and individual practices in delivering both the DES Specification and QOF QI.

If you have a suggestion for a resource or a subject matter to include, please contact either Dr Debbie Harvey or Elliot Graves.

  1. Referral practice
  2. Contribute to improving local uptake of National Screening Programmes
  3. Support delivery of the PCN specification through a Community of Practice

Dr Debbie Harvey outlines each section in detail:

The overarching objective of the QOF QI module is to contribute to improvements in relation to the following aspects of care through quality improvement methodology:

  • Improving participation in national breast, cervical and bowel cancer detection and prevention screening programmes among a practice’s registered population
  • Assessing and improving referral practices for patients suspected of having cancer; including use of guidelines, professional development, safety netting of those referred on suspected cancer pathways and shortening of diagnostic intervals

The Alliance produces regular bulletins with information for Primary Care Networks, GPs and other primary care professionals.

Please see them below:


Network Direct Enhanced Service (DES) Specification 2021/22

This year’s PCN DES for the early diagnosis of cancer reflects the ambitions of the DES for 20/21 but with an additional focus on recovery following the pandemic.
The key aspects of the DES are outlined below and discussed in the accompanying presentation.

  • The NHS Long Term Plan sets out that by 2028 the proportion of cancers diagnosed at Stages 1 and 2 will rise from around 50% to 75%. This will, in turn, improve 5yr survival
  • Achieving early diagnosis requires a whole systems approach with the focus of primary care being improving referral practice for suspected cancer and encouraging participation in national cancer screening programmes
  • In the first wave of COVID 2ww referrals dropped significantly. There has been some 2ww referral recovery, but this has not been the case for all tumour pathways eg lung, urology. Identifying, diagnosing and treating these missing cohorts will be a priority in 2021/22
  • Primary care will have a key role in continuing to grow public confidence in the safety & availability of general practice services, including the availability of face-to-face consultations where required

Resources for each Section of the DES