Mitt Romney fails the NHS test with his audacious criticism



21:05 GMT, 28 July 2012

Completely wrong: Mitt Romney criticised the NHS

Completely wrong: Mitt Romney criticised the NHS

American presidential candidate Mitt Romney had the audacity last week to criticise the NHS for making his son wait six weeks for a colonoscopy when he presented with seemingly worrying symptoms while living in the UK in 1995.

He claims this put his son in danger because the wait would be enough to make an operable cancer inoperable.

He’s completely wrong. If a patient sees a GP in this country with worrying signs for any cancer, they are seen within two weeks by a specialist.

This is an important target taking into account the length of time cancers take to develop and grow.

Romney’s son was 19 at the time and it would be very rare to develop bowel cancer at this age.

A colonoscopy would have been ordered for him to rule out bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or colitis. While waiting six weeks would be frustrating, it is unlikely to have been dangerous.

A colonoscopy is a camera test where a thin flexible telescope is passed into the rectum to look for cancer.

If you have high-risk symptoms or if your bowel-screening test is positive, you will see a specialist within two weeks. The colonoscopy will then be arranged as quickly as possible – usually within a month.

During this time you will have other diagnostic tests including blood tests, an ultrasound scan and possibly a CT scan. All help to diagnose a cancer.

The speed of the investigations in the UK is chosen to be economically viable but also safe: this time-frame is quick enough to catch a cancer before it becomes inoperable.

Urgent colonoscopies are performed to rule out bowel cancer. Symptoms would include any new prolonged diarrhoea or constipation, bleeding from the bottom and, in some instances, abdominal pain. The faster you see the GP, the sooner you can be referred.