Patients are set to benefit from faster treatment pathways as the NHS announces reforms to its cancer standards.
Coming into effect in October, the changes will streamline the amount of standards from 10 to just three, including:
- The 28-day faster diagnosis standard which sets out that patients with urgent cancer checks should have their suspected cancer either ruled out or diagnosed within 28 days
- The 62-day referral to treatment standard which means that those who are diagnosed with cancer following a referral should start treatment within 62 days of their referral
- The 31-day decision to treat standard which outlines how patients should begin treatment within 31 days of a decision to treat being made
NHS England says it has made the changes to “reflect what matters most to patients and to align with modern clinical practice.”
The health service has announced that the threshold of patients who should comply with the first standard will rise to 80% from 2025/26 – it is currently 75%. Local health leaders have also been asked to work towards a 10-day turnaround when delivering diagnostic results to those with an urgent cancer referral.
A roadmap of how to achieve these standards as well as how to recover performance is in the pipeline, according to NHS England.
The government also highlights the “outdated” two-week waits for a specialist appointment, which will be supplanted by the faster cancer diagnosis standard, aligning with recommendations from the 2015 independent cancer taskforce.
NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “The NHS is already catching more cancers at an earlier stage, when they are easier to treat, than ever before and the faster diagnosis standard will allow us to build on this excellent progress – it aims to ensure that patients get the all clear or a definitive diagnosis within 28 days.”
He continued: “The updated ambitions will mean the NHS can be even more focused on outcomes for patients, rather than just appointment times and it’s yet another of example of the NHS bringing cancer care into the modern era of care.”
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