The NHS Long Term Plan set out key ambitions for cancer, including that by 2028, the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 will rise from around half now to three-quarters of cancer patients. The plan builds on the work set out in the Independent Cancer Taskforce strategy published in 2015, which recommended a Faster Diagnosis Standard to ensure people receive a confirmation or ruling out of cancer within 28 days, a significant improvement on the current 2-week wait to first appointment target and a more patient centred performance standard.
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and its staff have agreed to be one of the trusts across England to take part in the field testing of the proposed new faster diagnosis standard for cancer. In this test, patients can expect to be told whether or not they have cancer within 28 days of being referred by their GP or as a result of a screening programme. This means they should see a specialist and receive their results within that timescale.
Maria said “The Trust’s performance against this 28 day standard for a diagnosis would be measured instead of the current standard which is to see a specialist within 14 days known as the Two Week Wait or “2WW” standard for an initial consultation. I hope that this simplified and modernised alternative standard will be more understandable and meaningful for people with suspected cancer and their families. It is also the intention that this would support best clinical practice to help diagnose cancers earlier.”
From the end of August, HHFT, along with a number of trusts across the country, will now be testing the use of this measure over the coming months. Once testing is completed, the NHS nationally will collate and analyse the data from all participating trusts, to inform recommendations from the review later in the year. For example, one recommendation may be to ultimately adopt the faster diagnosis standard, which would then sit alongside simplified measures of how quickly people begin treatment.
While test trusts will not be measured against the “2WW” standard, patients’ right to see a specialist within two weeks will continue to apply throughout the testing period. The quality and experience of care that patients receive, at what can be a worrying time, remains the Trust’s number one priority.