We respond to NHS England's proposed new standards
9 March 2022
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now said:
“We welcome NHS England’s ambition to deliver more rapid cancer diagnosis - when someone does have breast cancer, the sooner it’s diagnosed the more chance treatment will be successful. We also know the wait can be a hugely anxious time, regardless of if this leads to a diagnosis or the ‘all clear’.
“However, we’re deeply concerned that NHS England has significantly lowered its ambition for rapid diagnosis by setting the target for the new Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) at 75% by March 2024. The Independent Cancer Taskforce recommended the ambition should be for 95%* of people to be diagnosed with cancer, or have cancer ruled out within 28 days of urgent referral by 2020, and the Government has been championing rapid diagnosis as a key part of their upcoming 10-year cancer strategy.
“Yet the proposal is now to replace the current standard for 93% of people with suspected cancer to be seen by a specialist within two weeks, with a target for 75% of people receiving an outcome within 28 days. We fear that for breast cancer, this new target could fail in its aim to ensure those referred are seen and diagnosed sooner, especially as most people seen within two weeks of a breast cancer referral are already likely to be diagnosed or reassured well ahead of the 28-day deadline.
“The Government must urgently commit to increasing the 75% target for the FDS and publish a clear plan for building it up to the levels set out in the 2015 cancer strategy and outline how cancer services will be supported to meet this.”