UK waiting time targets in lung cancer treatment: are they achievable? Results of a prospective tracking study

J Cardiothorac Surg. 2007 Jan 12;2:5. doi: 10.1186/1749-8090-2-5.


Background: Recent guidelines have specified a number of waiting time targets to prevent delay in the treatment of lung cancer. This study was carried out to assess the quality of lung cancer services and compare with national recommendations.

Methods: All newly diagnosed cases of lung cancer presenting to our institution via general practitioner referral were entered into a prospective tracking study by a dedicated audit officer. From September 2003 to March 2005 a total of 247 patients were entered into the study. Of these 133 (54%) were referred by general practitioners and the remainder 114 (46%) were internal referrals. The Cancer Plan waiting time targets are mainly applicable to GP referrals, which formed the study group.

Results: All the patients were seen in chest out-patients clinic within the recommended two weeks period. However there was a delay in starting all forms of treatment. The median waiting time to any form of treatment was 60 days (recommendation 62 days for all patients).

Conclusion: This data demonstrates that although patients receive out patient consultation in the recommended time period, the National Cancer Plan 62 days GP referral to treatment target is not being achieved. A concerted effort by all clinicians is required to meet the prescribed target times.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Family Practice / methods
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration
  • Needs Assessment
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Analysis
  • United Kingdom
  • Waiting Lists*