The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as a patient to access certain services commissioned by the NHS within maximum waiting times. The Handbook to the NHS Constitution, page 27, states

“You have the right to:

  • start your consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from referral for non-urgent conditions; and
  • be seen by a cancer specialist within a maximum of two weeks from GP referral for urgent referrals where cancer is suspected.If this is not possible, the clinical commissioning group or the NHS Commissioning Board, which commissions and funds your treatment, must take all reasonable steps to offer a suitable alternative provider, or if there is more than one, a range of suitable alternative providers, that would be able to see or treat you more quickly than the provider to which you were referred.”

Cancer Patient Waiting Times

There are some very clear national guidelines for hospitals on the maximum amount of time that cancer patients should be kept waiting between different parts of their diagnosis and treatment. Once a patient has been referred by their GP and cancer is suspected there should be no more than 31 days before a decision to treat or not is made. There should then be no more than 31 days before the commencement of that treatment. The clock only stops if the patient is too poorly to undergo treatment or decides that they do not want the treatment.