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Waiting times for cancer patients in England after general practitioners' referrals: retrospective national survey

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 25 March 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:838
  1. Peter Spurgeon, professor of health services management (,
  2. Fred Barwell, honorary research fellowa,
  3. David Kerr, professor of clinical oncologyb
  1. a Health Services Management Centre, School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham, Park House, Birmingham B15 2RT
  2. b CRC Institute for Cancer Studies, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TJ
  1. Correspondence to: P Spurgeon
  • Accepted 2 March 2000

This paper was first posted on on 13 March 2000

Britain fares rather badly in international comparisons of cancer patients' survival rates. Relative survival rates in England and Wales1 are generally lower than in Europe, 2 which in turn are lower than rates in the United States.3 The differences between England and Wales and the rest of Western Europe in survival rates for colon cancer and female breast cancer arise primarily in the first six months after diagnosis, suggesting that these differences may relate to later presentation or delays in treatment for British patients.

Given this background, the government has pledged to “end waiting times for cancer surgery, thereby helping thousands of women waiting for breast cancer treatment.” The assumption is that reduced waiting …

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