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To diagnose cancer early, patient-facing staff in the pharmacies have been encouraged to complete at least one module of a training course developed by the British Oncology Pharmacy Association’s (BOPA).

The ‘Let’s Communicate Cancer’ training has now been added to the Health Education England (HEE)’s e-learning for healthcare website that is aimed at all members of the pharmacy team and consists of four modules: Early diagnosis and prevention; What is cancer?; Treatment of cancer; and Supporting your patients with cancer.

Last week, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced that they are planning on piloting a direct referral service for patients who present at pharmacies with certain symptoms, to allow these patients to be sent for scans and other checks as part of a new drive to diagnose cancer early.

Commenting on the release of the training, PSNC director of NHS Services Alastair Buxton said: “Cpovid-19 has significantly impacted diagnosis rates of cancer with Macmillan estimating that around 50,000 patients have missed a cancer diagnosis during the pandemic.

“Pharmacy teams have a key role to play in the early detection of cancer, recognising red flag symptoms, which may indicate cancer, and referring these patients to their GPs.

“Patient-facing staff, who provide advice on medicines or healthcare are therefore encouraged to complete at least module one of the above training, to refresh their knowledge on recognising red flag symptoms and how to refer patients presenting with these symptoms.”

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