PCN DES: Early Cancer Diagnosis

Introducing the Early Cancer Diagnosis – Primary Care Network Direct Enhanced Services (PCN DES)

As part of the 5 year plan NHS England has introduced the following seven service specifications for Primary Care Networks:

  • Structured Medication Review and Medicines Optimisation
  • Enhanced Health in Care Homes
  • Supporting Early Cancer Diagnosis
  • Anticipatory Care
  • Personalised Care
  • CVD Prevention and Diagnosis
  • Tackling Neighbourhood inequalities

The Supporting Early Cancer Diagnosis specification has been updated March 2022

Cancer Research UK Resources:

Visit the CRUK GP contract hub 

Delivering the Primary Care Network (PCN) service specification on early cancer diagnosis 2022/23

Key resources

CRUK Videos

The Primary Care Network specification works in combination with the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) Quality Improvement Domain, Early Cancer Diagnosis.

One of the recommendations included in this specification is to support engagement with local system partners such as Cancer Alliances.

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.

Key Aspects:

  • 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 5 year 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 Fast Track Suspected Cancer Referrals dropped significantly. There has been some Fast Track Suspected Cancer Referral recovery, but this has not been the case for all tumour pathways e.g 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.

The Northern Cancer Alliance Primary Care Network (PCN) event was held on Thursday 24th June 2021 to engage with PCNs across the Northern Cancer Alliance footprint to update Clinical Directors on areas of the PCN Early Cancer Diagnosis specification, and requirements needed to achieve this. Case studies are available highlighting areas of good practice PCNs have already focused on to work towards the PCN Early Cancer Diagnosis requirements.

Session recording (produced in 2021):

To access the PowerPoint presentation from this session, please click here.

NHS Confederation – Delivering the early diagnosis of cancer PCN specifications top ten tips.

In the following video aimed at primary care networks, Cancer Research UK GPs share ten top tips on the early diagnosis of cancer.

Essentially the PCN DES is Made up of Three Core Elements – (this section will be updated)