Show more Cancer patients are only finding out they have the disease at A&ECredit:Chris Radburn /PA Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said:“We know that our patients have great trust in their family doctor – according to the last GP Patient Survey, over 90 per cent had trust and confidence in the last GP they saw – so it’s understandable that some patients are willing to wait longer for an appointment with their preferred GP.“However, with conditions as serious a cancer, we would urge patients to make an appointment to discuss any potentially serious symptoms, as soon as possible – and we would reassure patients that all registered GPs working in the UK, irrespective of whether they’re the patient’s regular family doctor, will be highly trained to have sensitive, non-judgemental conversations with them about any issue affecting their health.”Dr Claire Knight, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager, said: “This study, unsurprisingly, found that GP’s listening skills are important. But the researchers asked questions to members of the public based on a hypothetical scenario so the answers weren’t based on actual patient experience. Consequently the results of this study cannot be linked to cancer trends and don’t tell us whether GPs have good or bad listening skills.”. GPs need to improve their listening skills because patients with possible cancer are suffering delays being diagnosed as they seek out one with a good bedside manner, research suggests.A new study found patients with possible signs of the disease will wait almost a month longer to see a GP – if it means finding someone who would listen properly to them.The research University College London found that patients were so desperate to see a family doctor with a decent bedside manner that they would defer consultations even about symptoms which could be life-threatening.Researchers conducted a series of experiments to see how more than 600 particpants weighed up decisions to see a doctor. Those enrolled in the study were assigned symptoms which could mean cancer and asked what would inform their decisions to make an appointment. Participants said they would want a short waiting time, to be able to choose their own doctor, and to find a GP with good or very good listening skills.But the analysis, published in the British Journal of General Practice found that concerns about communication were so great, that participants were willing to wait an average of three and a half weeks extra, in order to obtain a consultation with a GP who listened properly. “Conversely, and more worryingly, this means that having negative experiences when communicating with the doctor may put people off seeking help promptly.”The research said that poor listening skills also increased the risk that GPs would fail to elicit information about crucial symptoms.In recent years, health officials have run campaigns urging patients to get over potential embarassment and describe symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, which could be a warning sign of cancer. Britain has some of the worst cancer survival figures in the western world, largely because of late diagnosis.One in five patients with cancer is not diagnosed until they have arrived at an Accident & Emergency department.Last month, a study found that the vast majority of such patients had visited their GP at least one, while quarter had been to their surgery three or more times before arriving at A&E.Charities said the problem was exacerbated by difficulties obtaining a GP appointment. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Leading doctors have said too many patients are being forced to wait up to a month to see a family doctor, by which time problems may have become far more urgent.Researchers from UCL and the University of Surrey said the findings suggested work needed to be done to improve the communication skills of GPs.“In the context of experiencing a possible cancer symptom, people are willing to trade speed of access for a doctor with better interpersonal skills. It may therefore be possible to promote help seeking by improving doctors’ communication skills,” they concluded.