Summary guide pulls together best practice for meeting NHS 28-day cancer diagnosis standard

Summary guidance to support NHS clinicians to better meet the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) for cancer is now available to download.

Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) and NHS England’s Cancer Programme have worked in partnership to produce guidance for Best practice timed diagnostic cancer pathways, outlining how cancer alliances and local organisations can implement NHSE’s best practice timed diagnostic pathways for cancer.

The guidance includes advice for all stages of a cancer diagnosis, from early identification of patients to onward referral, as well as useful insights from the relevant GIRFT national clinical leads and links to best practice case studies.

This edition has a particular focus on colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer, with guidance for other cancer specialties to follow.

The NHS Long Term Plan committed to providing a faster diagnosis for patients through the introduction of the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS), to ensure people are told they have cancer or that cancer is excluded within 28 days from referral. Since the introduction of the FDS, performance across England has been around 71% (April 2023). The aim is to reach 75% performance by March 2024.

Best practice timed diagnostic pathways for seven cancer specialties (head and neck, gynaecology, colorectal, lung, prostate, skin and oesophago-gastric) have been shared by NHSE’s Cancer Programme, with more in development. The pathways aim to encourage consistent, system-wide approaches to managing diagnosis pathways, ​allowing clinicians to focus on the rapid investigation of the highest priority patients, while ensuring fast and effective rule out and management of those without cancer.

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