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.