arrow_up-blue blog branches consultations events facebook-icon facebook-icon2 factsheet forum-icon forum hands key link location lock mail measure menu_plus news pdf pdf2 phone policies publications related search share subjectguide twitter-icon word instagram-icon youtube-icon

RCN responds to NHS Combined Performance Summary

Press Release 10/01/2019

Patricia Marquis, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, responding to today's NHS Combined Performance Summary, said:

“Improving cancer survival rates is a core aim of the NHS Long Term Plan. Yet today’s figures show the NHS in England is headed for its worst year in a decade for the number of patients waiting more than two weeks between seeing a GP and their first consultant appointment after an urgent cancer referral.

“Today’s data reveals a 60 per cent increase in patients waiting too long in 2018/19, compared to the same months of the previous year. The overall number of patients being referred has increased by 15 per cent year on year, but the sharp increase in breaches of the two-week target is very worrying.

“Tens of thousands of patients and their families are enduring agonising waits, all too aware that a small delay could have a serious impact. This further highlights the need for a fully funded workforce strategy with staffing levels enshrined in law to ensure we have the right number of staff with the right skills to deliver the long term plan. This is the challenge we put to Government.”


  • Between April 2018 and November 2018, 124,133 individuals from 1,497,657 referrals were outside the target Two Week Wait From GP Urgent Referral to First Consultant Appointment.
  • Between April 2017 and November 2017, 77,423 individuals from 1,303,795 referrals were outside the target Two Week Wait From GP Urgent Referral to First Consultant Appointment.
  • This represents a 60.3 per cent increase in breaches and a 14.8 per cent increase in referrals. 

Source: Cancer Waiting Times National Timeseries Oct 2009 – Nov 2018, NHS England 

Press Office Contacts

Katherine Jarman, Head of Media
020 7647 3484 / 077186 96838

Daniel Sutherland, Senior Media Officer
020 7647 3695

Nick Spears, Senior Media Officer
020 7647 3696

Out of hours duty press officer
020 7647 3633