Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs) are also referred to as Rapid Diagnostic Services (RDSs) or Rapid Diagnostic Pathways (RDPs). They are designed to support our ambitions to achieve earlier faster diagnosis and improved patient experience for all patients whether or not they have cancer. (see RDC vision)

The Long Term Plan commits to the roll-out of new RDCs/RDSs that bring together modernised kit, expertise and cutting edge innovation, building on ten models piloted with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan. (Read more from Cancer Research UK)

Seven key components of an RDC / RDS

Rapid diagnostic centres or services are expected to include the following seven key components:

  • Early identification - of patients where cancer is possible, including outreach to target existing health inequalities
  • Timely referral - based on standardised referral criteria and appropriate filter function tests
  • Broad assessment of symptoms - resulting in effective triage, determining whether and which tests should be carried out and in what order, based on individual patient need  
  • Coordinated testing - which happens in fewer visits and steps for the patient, with a significantly shorter time between referral and reaching a diagnosis
  • Timely diagnosis of symptoms - cancer or otherwise, by a multi-disciplinary team where relevant, and communicated appropriately to the patient
  • Appropriate onward referral - to the right service for further support, investigation, treatment and / or care
  • Excellent patient coordination and support - with patients having a single point of contact throughout their diagnostic journey, alongside access to the right information, support and advice.

These centres or services will begin by focusing on diagnosing patients with non-specific symptoms who may go to their GP many times before being diagnosed. In time, RDCs / RDSs will be available for all patients with suspected cancer. They will offer a personal, accurate and fast diagnosis service, with excellent patient experience.

A national evaluation will be conducted to further understand the impact of RDCs on patient outcomes and inform national policy development.