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Cancer one-stop shops see three times more patients diagnosed the same day, finds study

One-stop clinics for patients with symptoms that could indicate cancer, see three times more patients diagnosed on the same day compared with multi-stop clinics, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Oxford compared one-stop and multi-stop pathways and found that one-stop clinics were associated with a ‘significant reduction’ in the referral to appointment waiting time from an average of 75 days to just 15.

They also reported that the clinics resulted in fewer patients needing additional appointments.

This comes after NHS England announced 10 new ‘one-stop shop’ cancer diagnosis centres for patients with non-specific symptoms, which will guarantee a diagnosis within two weeks of the patient’s first appointment.

The research team carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis with the aim of summarising the current evidence for one-stop clinics, which carry out all tests in a single appointment and have the results reviewed immediately by a consultant.

They included 29 studies published between 1998 and 2016, 25 of which were carried out in the UK, however all clinics included were for a specific set of symptoms or specialty.

The paper, published in Oxford Family Practice, said: ‘One-stop clinics were associated with a significant reduction in the waiting time between referral and clinic appointment from a mean of 75 days in multi-stop pathways to 15 days in one-stop clinics…

‘Significantly more patients referred to one-stop clinics (79.2%) compared to multi-stop clinics (24.7%) were also diagnosed on the same day’.

It added: ‘Significantly fewer patients required additional clinic appointments after attending a one-stop clinic.’

The authors noted that ‘patient and GP satisfaction was found to be generally high’ with the reported adverse effects of one-stop clinics being ‘either statistically non-significant or of little clinical significance’.

National statistics released earlier this year found that more cancer patients in England are being diagnosed early and fewer are presenting for the first time as an emergency, which many experts have attributed to increased vigilance among GPs.

But a new four-week cancer waiting standard, introduced from April this year, is aiming to cancer survival rates further.