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NHS: Standards

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 7th January 2020.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Conservative, South West Surrey

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the individual targets for (a) cancer treatment, (b) A&E waiting times, (c) eliminating infection, (d) elective waiting times and (e) any other NHS treatment targets.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

There are acute operational waiting time standards relating to cancer treatment, accident and emergency (A&E) and elective care which the National Health Service reports against on a monthly basis. These are outlined in the following table:



Two week wait from urgent general practitioner (GP) referral to see a specialist where cancer is suspected


31 day wait from diagnosis to first definitive treatment


62 day wait from urgent GP referral to first definitive treatment


Two week wait from referral to see a specialist for investigation of breast symptoms, even if cancer is not initially suspected


62 day wait from a national screening service to a first treatment for cancer


31 day wait from a decision to treat to a subsequent treatment for cancer (radiotherapy)


31 day wait from a decision to treat to a subsequent treatment for cancer (surgery)


31 day wait from a decision to treat to a subsequent treatment for cancer (anti-cancer drug regimen).




Patients admitted, transferred or discharged within 4 hours of arrival in A&E.


Elective care (referral-to-treatment)


Patients with incomplete pathways waiting 18 weeks or less to start consultant-led treatment.


In addition to the acute operational standards mentioned, there are also mental health waiting times targets which are published on either a monthly or a quarterly basis:



Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)

75% of people referred to IAPT services should start treatment within 6 weeks of referral and 95% should start treatment within 18 weeks of referral

Eating disorder services for children and young people

By 2020/21, 95% of children with an eating disorder will receive treatment within one week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases

Early intervention in psychosis

By 2020/21, at least 60% of people experiencing a first episode of psychosis commence a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)-recommended package of care within two weeks of referral

The United Kingdom’s five-year national action plan for antimicrobial resistance includes a strengthened focus on infection prevention and control and sets an ambition to halve levels of healthcare associated Gram-negative blood stream infections by 2023-2024. The draft NHS Standard Contract for 2020/21 includes a proposal for annual targets for trust and clinical commissioning group-level reductions in E. coli, Methicillin-Sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella and Pseudomonas bloodstream infections. The draft contract is out for consultation until 31 January 2020.

The NHS Standard Contract will continue to include targets for both methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (CDI). The zero-tolerance approach for MRSA bacteraemia will continue, and all acute providers submit monthly data on all positive MRSA bacteraemia specimens. CDI thresholds are published annually by NHS England and NHS Improvement and all acute providers must report positive CDI specimens.

National targets for vaccine preventable disease/immunisation are 95% national coverage for key vaccines, and 50% coverage for the childhood flu vaccine. The UK has also committed to meeting the World Health Organization elimination targets for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and Tuberculosis (TB) ahead of 2030, and is committed to eradicating HIV transmission in England by 2030 (Public Health England’s infectious disease strategy).

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