Cancer Alliance says plan to scrap two-week cancer wait target will ‘speed up diagnosis and treatment’ in North Yorkshire

York Hospital. Photo courtesy of Anttoni Numminen/LDRS

The streamlining of NHS England cancer targets will “speed up diagnosis and treatment” for patients, according to the North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance.

The Government has confirmed that it will be scrapping NHS England’s two-week cancer waiting time target as part of a plan to speed up treatment and diagnosis. 

It comes as figures show that targets for cancer wait times set by the Government and NHS England are not being met.

The York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said that it is also “off trajectory” for certain cancer wait time targets. 

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance spokesperson said: “Humber and North Yorkshire welcomes the announcement by NHS England that the existing 10 cancer waiting time standards will be consolidated into three key standards from 1st October 2023.

“The move will help to speed up diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients as they are more in line with the requirements of modern cancer care and are more focused on outcomes for cancer patients.”

The 10 current targets will be consolidated into the following three: 

  • diagnosis of cancer within 28 days of referral
  • starting treatment within two months of an urgent referral
  • starting treatment one month after a decision to treat.

A report prepared by the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust states that it is “above trajectory for the number of patients waiting over 62 days on a cancer pathway” at 241 against a target of 179 for June 2023.

It also notes that patients waiting 63 days or more on the cancer patient tracking list (PTL) has increased from 225 in May, to 241 at the end of June 2023. 

According to the Trust, this is “above the trajectory of 179, submitted as part of the national planning programme for 2023/24”. 

In May 2023, the cancer performance figures for the Trust that runs Scarborough Hospital saw an improvement in the 28-day Faster Diagnosis standard to 63 per cent compared to 61 per cent in April 2023.

However, the report prepared for the Trust’s board meeting in July, states that the 62-day wait for first treatment from urgent GP referral position deteriorated and stood at 49.9 per cent compared to 56 per cent in April 2023.

NHS England data revealed that in June, GPs made 261,006 urgent cancer referrals, an increase of 6 per cent compared to the previous month.