Quality statement 4: Encouraging attendance at cancer services

Quality statement

People with suspected cancer who are referred to a cancer service are given written information encouraging them to attend.

Rationale

Providing information to help people with suspected cancer to understand the importance of attending their appointment is critical to avoid delay due to missed appointments and ensure early diagnosis. People should be reassured that most people who are referred will not be diagnosed with cancer. This should help to alleviate any fears or concerns people may have about the referral.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that people with suspected cancer who are referred to a cancer service are given written information to encourage them to attend.

Data source: Local data collection.

Process

Proportion of referrals of people with suspected cancer to a cancer service for which there is a recorded discussion when they are offered the referral about information to encourage attendance.

Numerator – the number in the denominator for which there is a record of a discussion when the referral was offered about information to encourage attendance.

Denominator – the number of referrals of people with suspected cancer to a cancer service.

Data source: Local data collection.

Outcome

a) Number of missed appointments.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Patient satisfaction with information provided.

Data source: Local data collection.

c) Time to cancer diagnosis.

Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (primary care, secondary care and cancer services) ensure that systems are in place for people with suspected cancer who are referred to a cancer service to be given written information to encourage attendance when they are offered the referral.

Healthcare professionals (such as GPs or practice nurses) give people with suspected cancer written information when they are referred to a cancer service, to encourage them to attend and understand the need to do so.

Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) ensure that they commission services that provide written information to encourage attendance when referrals to cancer services are made for people with suspected cancer.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

People with suspected cancer are given written information when they are offered an appointment with a cancer specialist that explains what the appointment is for, what tests they might have and why, and what the results could mean. Giving people information will help to reassure them and encourage them to attend their appointment.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Information to encourage attendance to cancer services

People who are given a referral are provided with information about:

  • where they are being referred

  • how to get further information about the type of cancer

  • potential test outcomes

  • alternative diagnoses

  • how long it will take to get a diagnosis or test results

  • whether they can take someone with them to the appointment

  • who to contact if they do not receive confirmation of an appointment

  • other sources of support.

[Adapted from Suspected cancer: recognition and referral (NICE guideline NG12) recommendations 1.14.1, 1.14.3 and 1.14.5]

Equality and diversity considerations

Information given to a person with suspected cancer should be appropriate in terms of language and culture, because there may be different cultural meanings associated with the possibility of cancer.