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An article in Yahoo!UK tells us that nearly one-third of cancer diagnoses in those aged 70 and over occur in Accident and Emergency (A&E) wards.

The researchers and cancer societies have worked on the assumption that the elderly have not visited their GPs first.

However, the hundreds of comments beneath the article tell a different story, not only about the aged but children and middle aged people who have been fobbed off with paracetemol or nothing after visiting their local surgeries [‘doctor’s offices’, for those outside of Britain]. There are some real horror stories there, including fatalities resulting from diagnoses of cancer, diabetes and other diseases that came too late.

The message I got from this, perhaps unintended, is that people who think they have something seriously wrong should visit their A&E. That said, our hospitals are already understaffed and at the brink.

Yahoo!UK readers emphasised the importance of standing one’s ground with the NHS. They added that it is difficult for the elderly to convince doctors that something is wrong. Physicians aren’t interested.

One of the stark differences I’ve noticed over the years going back to the 1960s is that general practitioners used to be very good at diagnosing illness or lack thereof. They poked and prodded people. Nowadays, they do not want to even go near a person. And with the consultation time being rather lengthy when I was a child in the US to now around eight minutes in the UK, there really isn’t the time, care or attention given which is required.

Sorry, I have no solutions, although I do expect an article to appear a year from now saying that A&E wards are saturated with elderly people walking in for a cancer diagnosis. If so, who can blame them?

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