Safety netting in primary care consultations

Safety netting, in the context of cancer in primary care, ensures patients undergoing investigations are followed up in a timely and appropriate manner. We have tools and guidance for GPs.

What is safety netting?

Safety netting ensures patients undergoing investigations for cancer, or presenting with symptoms that may indicate serious disease, are followed up in a timely and appropriate manner.

The term 'safety netting' includes a wide range of actions and procedures. These may involve actions at an individual GP-patient consultation level and procedures implemented at a practice level.

Safety netting is particularly important for suspected cancer, where symptoms are common and often non-specific.

What does effective safety netting look like?

Effective safety netting can be carried out in various ways, but it is dependent on good continuity of information, record keeping and coding.

With the increased availability of digital tools and templates to support safety netting in practice, GPs now have the ability to set up alerts to check:

  • if the patient has been offered an appointment at the hospital
  • if they have attended their appointment
  • if the results of investigations have been shared with the GP
  • and/or if the patient has been informed of the findings.

Macmillan continues to support the improvement and embedding of electronic safety netting tools in general practice.

Electronic safety netting toolkit for cancer

The North Central London Cancer Alliance (formerly UCLH Cancer Collaborative) has developed an electronic safety netting toolkit to support GPs in various cancer-related clinical situations.

The toolkit gives GP practices a template through which they are able to schedule diary reminders in their system to remind and alert practice staff to follow up at a later date.

In June 2018, the toolkit was made nationally available on EMIS Web. This means any GP practice using EMIS Web can access the toolkit.

Access the toolkit and resources

Coding and safety netting e-learning for GPs

Central to effective safety netting is the high-quality coding of patient information. .

We have developed a free e-learning module, Coding and safety netting in the context of cancer, to support GPs, GP trainees and other primary care clinical staff. The aims of the course are:

  • to promote the clinical and non-clinical applications of coding
  • to raise awareness of the benefits of coding and safety netting to improve care for people living with cancer
  • to improve skills in high-quality coding and electronic methods of safety netting in clinical practice.

Access the e-learning course