Expanding electronic referrals for all GP cancer referrals, and ensuring that GPs have direct access to diagnostic for patients meeting referral criteria over the coming years are included as key performance indicators in the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.
Electronic referral pathways are in place for GPs to refer patients to rapid access clinics, where they have findings suggestive of breast, prostate or lung cancer. The proportion of these referrals sent electronically in 2018 was as follows:
- Breast 75%
- Prostate 79%
- Lung 39%
Overall electronic cancer referral rate as a percentage of attendances at rapid access clinics for breast, prostate and lung cancer in 2018 was 72.1%.
The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) is working (with eHealth Ireland/Access2Information and the GPIT group of the Irish College of General Practitioners) with the aim of increasing the availability and uptake of electronic referral.
More recently the HSE Endoscopy Programme has developed a GP electronic referral process for colonoscopy which is now being rolled out.
Work on addressing the challenges for GPs in direct access to radiological investigations, particularly ultrasound and CT, is also being undertaken by the HSE in conjunction with the Irish College of General Practitioners and the HSE Radiology Clinical Programme.