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Our quality story

Maximum waiting times for cancer treatment following GP referral

If your GP suspects that you might have cancer, your treatment should begin within two months of referral to a hospital doctor. This includes the time taken to confirm your diagnosis and to agree a treatment plan.

What's the standard?

We are expected to ensure that at least 85% of patients begin their treatment within 62 days (two months) of being referred to us.

How are we doing?

  • November 2019 – 68.1% of our patients began their treatment within 62 days of being referred
  • October – 68.8%
  • September – 70%

We are working hard to ensure all patients are seen within 62 days, whether they are referred directly to Guy's and St Thomas', or are referred to us by another hospital for specialist treatment. We are working with the hospitals who send patients to us to make sure that these patients are referred earlier, as it is difficult for us to achieve this target, particularly for patients who have already waited 42 days or more, when we first see them.

Some cancers may be difficult to diagnose, and patients may require several tests before their treatment can begin. This can also make it difficult to start treatment with 62 days, although we are working hard to reduce waiting times for all patients.

How you can help us

Because Guy’s and St Thomas’ offers specialist diagnostic tests and treatments, many patients will see a doctor in their local hospital first. If you are referred to Guy’s and St Thomas’, you can help us by letting us know immediately if you are unable to keep your appointment. We will then offer you an alternative date and give your appointment to another patient.

You can change your appointment online or by phone.

Find out more

For more information about waiting times, see the NHS website.

Improving our cancer services

Our Cancer Centre at Guy's and Queen Mary's Hospital brings together cancer services in one place, helping to reduce unnecessary waiting times. Watch our film to find out more.

  • Video transcript: Guy’s Cancer – changing cancer care

    Dr Majid Kazmi, clinical director: Guy's Cancer to me means the very best in cancer care delivered by world-leading clinical teams allied to cutting-edge research and all delivered in an uplifting environment has been designed by patients for patients.

    Patient: To have been listened to and this is the result, you know, I just find it overwhelming actually. To be part of the making of it, you know, and creating of it, that is impressive.

    Dawn Harper, head of nursing: Everything we do and all the decisions we've made about the way the Cancer Centre runs has been made with the patients in mind to make this is stress-free journey as possible.

    Patient: When I come into this building I get an amazing feeling that it's bright and light, it's welcoming. So sometimes when people are not at their very best and they come in here, they're going to be lifted.

    Kieron Boyle, chief executive, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity: There's such an exciting variety of art the Cancer Centre, right from the moment that you walk into the building. And for patients it can improve recovery it can reduce stress, it can even help you find your way around the building.

    Dawn Harper: So we've done away with floor number and instead we have Villages. So if you're coming for chemotherapy you're going to the Chemotherapy Village, if you're going for Radiotherapy you go to the Radiotherapy Village. We make it as simple as possible so there's no anxiety around finding the right Department.

    Neil Burley, radiotherapist: We have six brand-new radiotherapy machines in the Cancer Centre. They allow us to give more accurate treatment so fewer healthy cells are damaged and in some cases they allow us to give stronger doses. So our treatments are faster and safer. The whole environment is much better for our patients.

    Dawn Harper: Patients told us that going to the basement for their radiotherapy treatment wasn't ideal. We're the first centre in Europe to have radiotherapy above ground level in response to what they told us.

    Professor Vicky Goh, professor of cancer imaging at King’s College London: I think the Cancer Centre is a really super environment for a patient. In the Cancer Centre we have state-of-the-art imaging which means that we can really fulfil that aspiration of a world-class service.

    Dr Majid Kazmi: We're now seeing over six and a half thousand patients every year, and that number will continue to grow. We need to be able to offer them the highest quality of cancer treatment. In order to deliver world-class cancer treatment you need to have a combination of high quality clinical care, a great patient experience but also high-quality scientific research which underpins new treatments.

    Professor Peter Parker, head of cancer studies, King’s College London: What really excites me about the Centre the bringing together of our research along with our clinical treatment and that brings together a whole series of different skills the doctors and nurses, scientists together in one place. It just makes our research more efficient. It means that we can deliver new treatments in the clinic much more effectively.

    Louisa McDonald, clinical trials coordinator: Having research and clinical trials in the same building as treatment makes a real difference. It improves the patient experience, we're just upstairs if they need as we can pop down and answer any questions they might have, from a first consultation with the doctor or if they just nip into ask us something. We're always on hand for them.

    Dawn Harper: It's not just about medical treatment. Patients with cancer need lots of other support too. At the Cancer Centre we have a rehabilitation gym for patients in the recovery phase, we have a shop style fitting room for patients to get expert advice on wigs and head scarves. We also have Dimbleby Cancer Care who provide a fantastic service to patients.

    Patient: When I lost all my hair, I didn't have any hair and I wasn't feeling particularly wonderful about myself, I was able to go on a feel-good makeup makeover and they showed you how to, reinvent myself actually, so yeah it was really, really good!

    Dr Sue Smith, consultant clinical psychologist: Dimbleby Cancer Care offers a range of services including benefits advice and support, talking therapies for individuals, families, couples as well as group therapy programmes. We also offer complementary therapy and we also have an information support service that's led by a team of specialist nurses.

    Dr Majid Kazmi: We're looking at the whole patient journey. We're looking at diagnosis and making sure we get that done quickly and accurately, we're looking at offering the best treatments possible but recognising that patients have needs that go beyond just their cancer diagnosis and supporting all the way through their treatments and beyond.

    Louisa McDonald: Working in Cancer Centre is great because it just brings everybody together, it's such a nice environment to work in. It's so light and bright and airy and it's a much nicer place for the patients to be, nicer place the staff to work, so it's great.

    Patient: People treat you with respect, they treat you like you're normal because sometimes you go through one of the worst things here but people treat you with dignity. People will make you feel good and that's quite infectious really at the end of the day, and it rubs off. So to come have your treatment is just really amazing.


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of our patients began their treatment within two months of being referred in November 2019.

Page last updated: February 4 2020