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Welsh cancer waiting times target to start from GP suspicion

Waiting times for cancer treatment will soon start from a GP’s point of suspicion, rather than diagnosis, the Welsh secretary for health and social services Vaughan Gething has announced.

A new single cancer pathway will be introduced, which will not only measure cancer waiting times, but will start a patient’s waiting time from the point of suspicion of cancer, Mr Gething said.

Along with this, the Welsh Government has announced £7m in funding with the aim of reducing cancer waiting times and delivering earlier diagnosis. 

In total, £10m will be spent, as last November the Government announced £3m would be provided to fund the new single cancer pathway, replacing the existing urgent suspected and non-urgent suspected cancer pathways from June 2019. 

At the time, Mr Gething said: ‘The single pathway is for all cancer patients, whether referred by the GP or identified through an emergency presentation, an incidental finding, screening or during an appointment in secondary care.’

The scope of the new funding will include £3m to support diagnosis services such as endoscopy and radiology, in addition to procedures like gene and cell therapy.

Another £3m will go to assessing how rehabilitation services are used and will focus on community-based prevention and early intervention to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.

The remaining £1m will be split between supporting 1,000 Lives Improvement, a Public Health Wales-delivered service, and developing value-based healthcare.

BMA Welsh council chair David Bailey said it will be a huge help to alleviate GP workload.

Mr Bailey said: ‘We don’t currently have two week waiting list rules, although hospitals do prioritise urgent suspected cancer referrals. Anything that shortens delays to referrals will be a huge help to overworked GPs, and we would welcome any investment into better access to diagnostics.’

Mr Gething said: ‘The funding I have announced today will ensure that health services in Wales develop innovative solutions and ensure that patients get the most out of health services.

He continued: ‘The investment will help unlock better ways of delivering services, provide consistency of care across Wales, and result in better outcomes for the people of Wales.’