NHS cancer test results within 28 days

John Bennett
John Bennett

Published: March 11th, 2022

7 min read

The Times Newspaper reports "Patients with suspected cancer will be promised a diagnosis within 28 days under NHS plans, but a present target to get them in front of a specialist within a fortnight will be abandoned"

"Two further measures are a maximum two-month wait from urgent GP referral or cancer screening to first treatment, and a maximum wait of a month from a decision to treat and the beginning of the treatment"

These differ from the current NICE guidelines which set out recommendations on the appropriate diagnostic tests for patients:

How soon diagnostic tests or consultation should be carried out depending on the signs and symptoms (e.g. within 48 hours, 2 weeks etc);

Recommendations for 'safety netting' patients;

Recommendations on the information and support to provide to people with suspected cancer and their families and/or carers.

The Guidelines set out the benefits of an early referral which include:

  • Earlier diagnosis of cancer, leading to increased survival.
  • A reduction in cancers diagnosed via an emergency route.
  • Optimised diagnostic processes.
  • More appropriate referrals to secondary care for suspected cancer.

The new proposals appear to extend the recommended NICE time limits, however, diagnosis is the most important feature, followed by treatment. Problems can arise if there are delays in referrals, following up results and treatment. The new proposals will hopefully assist in avoiding these. Unfortunately, here at Forbes Solicitors, we are still seeing the effects of missed opportunities to treat and follow up.

Ultimately the patient must prove an earlier referral would have made a difference to the outcome. If an earlier referral would have made no difference, then there is no causative effect and no claim and expert evidence is usually required to prove this. If the prospects of success are reasonable, we accept cases on a no win no fee basis, backed by an After the Event Insurance policy, when required.

If you, a loved one, or a friend have been the victim of a delayed diagnosis or oversight case and would like some advice, please contact our clinical negligence team.

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