Cancer waiting times after urgent referral

The NHS Cancer Plan introduced in 2000 stated that there should be a maximum two-week wait for a first outpatient appointment for patients referred urgently by a GP with suspected cancer. This indicator looks at the percentage of people who were seen within two weeks of being referred.

How have waiting times after an urgent referral changed?

The percentage of people being seen within two weeks remained largely consistent, between 95% and 96% from Q3 2009/10 onwards. However, after Q4 2011/12, it decreased, reaching an all-time low of 93.5% in Q1 2014/15. It has since increased again to 94.7% in Q4 2016/17.

Updated July 2017.

How have waiting times after an urgent referral changed by cancer type?

Here we compare data from 2014/15 Q1, 2015/16 Q1 and 2016/17 Q1. In 2016/17 Q1, the proportion of people having an outpatient appointment within two weeks varied slightly by cancer type, but remained above 92% for almost all cancer types. The highest rates in 2016/17 were seen for leukaemia and testicular cancer.

Please note that some of these cancers are very rare and changes in a small number of cases can have a large effect on the proportions.

Updated July 2017.

How have waiting times after an urgent referral changed for suspected breast cancer?

We saw in the previous chart that the proportion of people seen within 2 weeks of an urgent referral for breast cancer has increased between 2014/15 Q1 and 2016/17 Q1. Looking at the longer term trend we can see that between Q1 2012/13 and Q4 2016/17 the proportion has declined from 97.2% to 94.9%.

Updated July 2017.

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