NHS seeks views on new proposed standards for cancer treatment

The NHS is launching a consultation on proposed new standards which have an aim to diagnose cancers earlier.  

Developed with contributions from clinical leaders and supported by NHS staff, cancer charities and patients, the proposal aims to simplify and update cancer standards based on the recommendations of the Independent Cancer Taskforce. 

Clinicians, patients and the public will be asked to contribute their views on the proposed standards over the next month, which will be supported with a report setting out the developments.  

On ensuring patients have the same opportunity for faster diagnosis and treatment, the new plan proposes:  

  • A 28-day diagnosis standard, in which patients who have been urgently referred, picked up through screening, or have breast cancer symptoms, receive a diagnosis within the allotted time or have cancer ruled out.  
  • A 62-day referral to treatment standard, meaning that patients who receive a cancer diagnosis will start within nine weeks from date of referral.  
  • A 31-day decision to treatment standard, so patients receive their first treatment within a month of a decision to treat following a diagnosis.  

Within the NHS statement, the organisation highlights the new standards aim to make diagnosis and treatment timelines easier to understand for people with suspected cancer, while helping to diagnose cancer earlier and ‘save more lives’.

Dame Cally Palmer, NHS National Director for Cancer, said: “Access standards have been key to improving timeliness of treatment for people with cancer since they were first introduced in 2000.  

“As we see advances in diagnosis and treatments for cancer, it is only right that these standards are modernised – so that we can ensure patients are diagnosed more quickly and are given the treatment they need as soon as possible, helping us save even more lives. 

“These proposed changes are an important part of improving cancer care and so from today, the NHS will be inviting views from patients, staff and the public.”

Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer for NHS England, added: “We know that people having tests for possible cancer want to know the results quickly, and updating the standards to reflect this will help us to make sure we are able to deliver the best possible care. We are encouraging colleagues in NHS cancer services to share their views on the consultation to ensure we have standards that are better for people with cancer.”

To submit your views on the new proposals before 6 April 2022,  please click here.