POSTED: December 05 2017
New self-referral service for cancer launched

New self-referral service for cancer launched

Healthcare provider Bupa has launched a self-referral cancer service, called Cancer Direct Access it is available to its health insurance customers.


Bupa’s new direct access service comes as research suggests that, on average Brits search online for ‘cancer’ eleven times a second, making it one of the most frequently searched for medical conditions.


Bupa believes their approach is key to improving early diagnosis and the treatment of cancer.  Without needing to wait for a GP referral, if a Bupa customer is experiencing cancer symptoms they can call the Cancer Direct Access team, and book an appointment with a specialist consultant.


The Cancer Direct Access service is delivered by a team of specialist advisers who use the latest National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines to establish whether a customer needs to be referred to a specialist. It offers Bupa customers fast access to diagnosis for a wide range of cancers including stomach, lung, testicular and bladder. The launch of Cancer Direct Access builds on Bupa’s Direct Access service for breast and bowel cancer and covers some of the most common types of cancer1.


Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment of cancer significantly improves the outcome for patients. If diagnosed early (stage one), more than 80 per cent of people with stomach cancer will survive for five years or more after they’re diagnosed; however this survival rate drops to less than five per cent if it’s not diagnosed until stage four2.


With Cancer Direct Access the majority of customers who are referred to a specialist consultant will be seen within a week, and if diagnosed with cancer would begin their treatment within a month.


Dr Steve Iley, Medical Director at Bupa UK, comments: “One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime but the good news is that survival rates continue to improve. Early cancer detection can have a significant impact on an individual’s chance of survival and reduces their need for complex and invasive treatment.


However we know that diagnosis and treatment are often delayed as people can’t find the time to book a GP appointment or worry about wasting the doctor’s time. Cancer Direct Access removes the need for a GP referral and allows customers to access specialist diagnosis services in a way that is easy and convenient for them. In some cases it offers peace of mind and reassurance that an individual’s symptoms are not cancer, or allows them to quickly access the appropriate medical support and treatment for their diagnosis.”


If a customer calls with symptoms that are not covered by Cancer Direct Access Service they will be advised to see their GP, and can receive on-the-spot clinical advice from a Bupa nurse. The nurse can also provide them with guidance about what they should ask their GP, and information about the additional support that Bupa can offer.


Customers who are diagnosed with cancer can access breakthrough drugs, advanced treatments, and Bupa’s network of cancer specialist centres and hospitals. They also have the option of chemotherapy treatment delivered by a specialist nurse in the comfort of their own home, if clinically appropriate.


Bupa’s specialist oncology team which is made up of cancer nurses and advisers can provide customers with personalised support. Customers can choose to have a named specialist nurse who will help manage their care, and this ranges from advice on how to manage their condition and recovery; through to help making complex medical decisions. The team can develop individual action plans including lifestyle advice to support secondary prevention and staying healthy, and regularly signpost to support groups.


Customers also have access to trained counsellors who provide emotional and psychological support at all stages of diagnosis and treatment.


Professor David Cunningham, Director of Clinical Research and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden comments: “As an oncologist I treat patients who have been diagnosed with cancer at various stages and the prognosis for those who are diagnosed in the early stages of cancer are typically much better. Bupa’s Cancer Direct Access can help to boost the number of patients who are diagnosed and treated early – which is a vital step forward in cancer.”


Direct Access Cancer Service covers: 

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Pancreatic
  • Renal cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Testicular cancer

Stuart Scullion, Chairman of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) commented: “Bupa is well-known for the high quality treatment and support it provides customers diagnosed with cancer. Cancer Direct Access is an industry first, enabling people to seek medical advice and reassurance in a convenient way, and demonstrates Bupa’s commitment to delivering a first class cancer service.”


Bupa’s Direct Access Service is also available for cataracts, mental health and muscle, bones and joint conditions.

For more information about Cancer Direct Access, visit 



1The service covers three quarters (74 per cent) of all Bupa UK’s cancer claimant volume (2016), across 13 cancer including breast, bowel, stomach, skin, and lung cancer.

2Survival by stage: