GP and patientThe earlier cancer is diagnosed, the more options there are for treating it and the better the chances for survival.

To improve earlier diagnosis, London Cancer has been working with GP surgeries, delivering education and guidance on the use of computer coding to log concerning symptoms and cancer risk assessment tools.

Computer coding, also known as READ coding, is a vital part of GP activity. READ codes are a thesaurus of standard clinical terms that appear on a GPs computer when they record a patient’s symptoms. These codes provide a standard way of recording information. Using READ codes enables GPs to have the most up to date and connected information about their patients at their fingertips, regardless of how long they have known them.

Despite its importance, READ coding has not been taught in a standard way and is not part of the trainee GP curriculum. Improving the use of READ coding would lead to more meaningful results from risk assessment tools, like QCancer. These improved results will:

  • Reduce incidents of GPs missing indications of cancer
  • Lead to earlier cancer referrals and early detection
  • Improve care for patients who have survived cancer.

Our work so far

To date we have:

  • Provided education on coding and safety netting at GP surgery pilot sites and measured the impact of this on clinical coding practice
  • Delivered educational talks at local CCGs within the London Cancer region
  • Delivered coding and safety netting education in GP Vocational Training Scheme sessions
  • Produced a document detailing good coding and safety netting practices that aims to upgrade and standardise computer coding and safety netting practices in all GP surgeries.
  • Read the full guide here – A guide to quality coding and safety netting in the context of cancer.

We have also produced a cancer safety netting toolkit. This toolkit provides a template that uses diary entries attached to READ codes to support GPs, providing a more stringent method of safety netting.

Further documents: