Modernising the Cancer Waiting Times (CWT) standards means that the 10 cancer standards have been simplified to three standards from 1 October 2023. All three of these performance standards are key measures of performance, and the NHS in England remain committed to all three. A one-page summary is available [link].

This streamlining of the CWT standards includes:

·       Removing the Two-Week Wait standard which requires all cancer referrals to be ‘seen’ within two weeks and replacing it with the Faster Diagnosis Standard, mainly due to the advent of straight to test pathways, the modern reality and convenience of remote consultations, and the impending technological revolution offered by artificial intelligence.

·       The Faster Diagnosis Standard that has been reported by NHS trusts since October 2021, including Urgent Suspected Cancerscreening and breast symptomatic referrals.

·       Combining together the three existing 62-day targets (A) Urgent Suspected Cancer referral, (B) screening and (C) consultant upgrade into a single standard. Note that cases referred to a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) should now be recorded as a consultant upgrade, and these will be counted within the 62-day combined standard together with (A) and (B) above.

·       Combining together the four existing 31-day targets applying to first treatment and each of three possible subsequent treatments for radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery into a single standard.

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Background information about the changes to CWT:

Explanation: NHS England » Changes to cancer waiting times standards from 1 October 2023

CWT Review Consultation Response: NHS England » Cancer waiting times review – Models of care and measurement: consultation response

CWT Guidance: Cancer Waiting Times Data Collection (CWT) - NHS Digital

CWT Data: Statistics » Cancer Waiting Times (


More information about the Faster Diagnosis Standard:

The Faster Diagnosis Framework: NHS England » Faster diagnosis

Implementing Best Practice Timed Pathways: NHS England » Rapid cancer diagnostic and assessment pathways


Patient information - on urgent suspected cancer referral

We have a leaflet available for health professionals to provide patients, when patients are being given an urgent referral to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis. Please access this leaflet here or by clicking on the image below. 

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