The Faster Diagnosis programme is committed to working with our stakeholders and partners to:

  • Support earlier and faster diagnosis through the development and implementation of efficient diagnostic pathways and best practice timed pathways
  • Support the improvement of cancer waiting times performance with a focus on achieving the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS)
  • Provide an improved personalised diagnostic experience, whilst reducing unwarranted variation and addressing health inequalities, ensuring the patient voice informs development
  • Deliver standardisation across services where clinically appropriate and share best practice, with a focus on evaluation and sustainability of all faster diagnosis developments
  • Support innovative solutions to earlier diagnosis, risk stratification and patient care, enabling teams to innovate to achieve better patient experience and outcomes
  • Improve opportunities for cancer workforce development and deliver new ways of working
  • Ensure Primary Care Network (PCN) and GP involvement is a core part of faster diagnosis design and delivery, reducing barriers between primary and secondary care
  • Work with the Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) programme to ensure we take every opportunity to improve and optimise access to diagnostic capacity for cancer pathways and ensure the CDC programme aligns with the faster diagnosis principles
  • Work with organisations and clinical services to embed core faster diagnosis principles across the system.

The programme has projects underway across several tumour sites. For further detail on what each project involves, please contact

  • Urology - prostate, bladder and renal
  • Upper gastrointestinal - pancreas, liver, oesophagogastric
  • Sarcoma
  • Breast
  • Skin
  • Head and neck
  • Colorectal
  • Haematology
  • Lung
  • Brain
  • Teenage and young adults
  • Children’s

Faster Diagnosis Framework Objectives

NSS Pathway rollout to 100% population coverage

Best Practice Timed Pathways Implementation

  • By March 2024, BPTPs will be published for all suspected cancer pathways, including for Non-Specific Symptoms
  • Teledermatology and Community Spot Clinics should be made available

Priority Pathway Improvements

  • Single point of contact and appointment reminders
  • Cancer Decision Support Tools
  • Electronic Referrals
  • Straight to test and clinically-led triage
  • Coordinated Testing
  • Optimal and appropriate onward referral
  • More effective feedback loops

Locally Defined Pathway Innovations - e.g. self-referral, virtual triage hubs, combined pathway approaches, supporting accessibility and reducing health inequalities

Work with ICS and Providers to ensure that sufficient diagnostic capacity is available


Faster Diagnosis Key Principles

  1. Early identification of patient where cancer is possible, including outreach to target existing health inequalities
  2. Timely referral based on standardised referral criteria and appropriate filter function tests
  3. 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
  4. Coordinated testing which happens in fewer visits and steps for the patient, with a significantly shorter time between referral and reaching a diagnosis
  5. Timely diagnosis of patients’ symptoms, cancer or otherwise, by a multi-disciplinary team where relevant, and communicated appropriately to the patient
  6. Appropriate onward referral to the right service for further support, investigation, treatment and/or care
  7. 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.
  8. The team will be aware of clinical trials and research opportunities available with their specialty and will support all eligible patients to access this.