NHS England has announced changes to the cancer waiting time standards. The changes have been developed by clinical experts and are supported by leading cancer charities.
From October 1, the two-week wait standard will be removed and instead patients can be told to expect a cancer diagnosis or rule-out of cancer within 28 days of being referred from their GP or cancer screening programme.
This is an improvement on the current standard in which patients are told they will see a specialist within 14 days, with no measurement of when test results or diagnoses will be communicated.
There is no change to the way GPs refer patients onto urgent suspected cancer pathways – the only change is that the NHS will measure how well it is dealing with those referrals by looking at speed of actual diagnosis, not whether the patient has a first appointment within a fortnight. When making an urgent suspected cancer referral, GPs and practice admin teams should still code it as `Priority type – Two Week Wait’ until the language in the Cancer Waiting Times dataset is updated (expected 2024/25).
Patients should still be told that it is important to attend the first appointment they are given (which may be for an investigation or via telephone). The Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance patient information leaflet for urgent suspected cancer referrals is available on our website and available in 13 languages including English: Patient information for urgent suspected cancer referrals.
The three cancer waiting time standards from the autumn will be:
- 28-day Faster Diagnosis Standard – diagnosis or ruling out of cancer within 28 days of referral. This is in place already and remains unchanged
- 31-day Treatment Standard – a first treatment within a month of decision to treat for all cancer patients
- 62-day Treatment Standard – a first treatment within two months of primary care referral, screening or consultant upgrade
Find more information about the announcement and changes here:
- NHS England Cancer Waiting Time Standards press release
- A one-page summary of the cancer waiting times standards can be found here: NHS Cancer Waiting Times Standards
- NHS Cancer Waiting Time Standards FAQs