For the first time, all cancer patients in Wales are having their waiting time measured from when their cancer is first suspected rather than from when their referral is received in hospital.
The new measure, a first in the UK, aims to speed up diagnosis and ensure people with cancer are treated more quickly. It has been designed and developed by clinicians and is backed by cancer charities.
It will eventually replace the existing 2 cancer waiting times, which are based on how a person’s cancer is identified and puts people on either a 31-day pathway or a 62-day pathway; a model which has been used throughout the UK for many years.
Now all people with cancer are having their waiting time measured in one consistent way, no matter how their cancer is identified. All patients are now measured against a 62-day pathway, which crucially starts at an earlier point, when their cancer is first suspected.
The first set of statistics for the new measure were published today and show that 74.4% of people were treated within 62-days of when they were first suspected of having cancer.
The introduction of this new measure is the first step in a programme to improve the timeliness, consistency and quality of cancer care in Wales.
The Welsh Government is providing an extra £3 million annually to help health boards in Wales implement the new measure. The new money will be focused on improving the diagnostic element of the pathway, so that people can more quickly have cancer ruled out or get their diagnosis and move onto treatment.
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
Cancer is the single biggest cause of premature death in Wales and the UK. It’s highly likely cancer will touch everyone’s lives at some point.
I am very pleased Wales is leading the way in the UK by adopting the new Single Cancer Pathway, which has broad support from clinicians and charities.
We are supporting health boards to improve performance against the new measure and I’m confident it will lead to an improved service for people affected by cancer. This is a vital step forward in improving cancer outcomes in Wales.
Richard Pugh, Head of Services (Wales) for Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
Macmillan welcomes this brave move by the Welsh Government to measure cancer waiting times from the time cancer is suspected with Wales being the first and only UK country to do so.
We believe this more transparent approach will highlight where there are delays and what’s caused them to drive improvement to ensure every person diagnosed with cancer in Wales has timely treatment which meets their needs.