'Two Week Wait' referrals for suspected cancer can have 'significant positive impact' on outcomes, says College as it urges patients not to miss appointments

Publication date: 19 November 2019

The College has responded to research in the British Journal of General Practice on patients suspected of having cancer who fail to attend urgent referrals.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "It's concerning to hear that even a small proportion of patients are not attending their 'two-week wait' referral appointments for suspected cancer. If patients are seen quickly when cancer is suspected, it can have a significant positive impact on their treatment and the eventual outcome.

"GPs are highly skilled communicators who will always try to strike the difficult balance of conveying to patients the importance of attending two week wait referral appointments, without causing them undue worry and anxiety.

"We are highly trained to have difficult conversations, but we need more time with our patients and the traditional 10-minute appointment is increasingly unfit for purpose. This research provides further evidence to support the College's calls for 15-minute appointments as standard for our patients with complex needs.

"Meanwhile, we would urge any patient who cannot attend their two week wait referral appointment to contact the hospital to arrange an alternative date as a matter of urgency, and, if at all possible, within two weeks of seeing their GP."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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