Two week rule for cancer referrals

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7317.864 (Published 13 October 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:864

Reducing waiting times from diagnosis to treatment might be more effective

  1. Simon Thomas (simon.thomas@addenbrookes.nhs.uk), physicist,
  2. Neil Burnet (neilb@argonet.co.uk), consultant oncologist
  1. Addenbrooke's NHS Trust, Cambridge CB2 2QQ
  2. Browning Street Surgery, Stafford ST16 3AT
  3. BASO (British Association of Surgical Oncology) Breast Group, Royal College of Surgeons of England and Wales, London

    EDITOR—In their editorial on the two week rule for cancer referrals Jones et al discuss the fact that steps to meet the target for “urgent” referrals have led to a doubling of waiting time for “routine” cases.1 This is exactly the result we would expect from our calculations modelling waiting times with a Monte Carlo model based on Poisson fluctuations in demand.2

    To sustain a waiting time below two weeks, capacity needs to exceed mean demand by approximately two patients a week for a wide range of values of mean demand. This applies to any appointment, including those for diagnostic and staging procedures, …

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