What NHS Trusts Can Do to Reduce Waiting Times for Cancer Treatment

Gonzalez-Esuerra, J., Karlsberg, S. and Paling, S.

Seminar Briefing
February 2020

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The NHS Improvement Economics team is part of the Strategy Directorate in NHS Improvement. NHS Improvement aims to implement changes to help improve both quality and efficiency. Recent research by the Economics team intended to support this has included research on A&E performance, NHS staffing, and inpatient falls.

One of the major goals of the recent NHS Long Term Plan is to improve cancer survival rates. A crucial part of that is earlier diagnosis and timely treatment, the focus of the research presented today. A few statistics highlight the importance of this: over 350,000 new cancer cases appear in the UK each year and cancer deaths account for about 28 percent of all deaths in the UK (Cancer Research UK, 2019). The number of newly diagnosed cases each year is somewhat misleading with respect to the burden of cancer on the NHS: around 90-95 percent of patients suspected of having cancer are not diagnosed with cancer. However, all potential cancer patients proceed along the same cancer pathway and undergo the same diagnostic procedures. The total burden, then, is substantial higher than statistics on actual cancer cases imply.