male nurse talking to elderly patient

Improving patient experience of Rapid Diagnostic Services for cancer

As part of the evaluation of the new Rapid Diagnosis Services (RDS) pathways, we worked with Peninsula Cancer Alliance (PCA) to conduct surveys of patient experiences. The results were used to inform service improvement strategies.


The NHS Long Term Plan set ambitions for the establishment of Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs) to deliver a faster and earlier diagnosis of cancer, supporting the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS). Their aim was to increase capacity through more efficient diagnostic pathways, providing a better, personalised diagnostic experience with co-ordinated tests and a single point of contact.

PCA started to deliver RDS during 2020/21. As part of the evaluation of the new RDS pathways, we worked with PCA to conduct surveys of patient experiences. The results of which were able to inform service improvement strategies.

Our approach

We delivered:

  • Patient surveys for each of the 13 agreed RDS pathways, across each of the 5 RDS provider sites (100 surveys per pathway)
  • Detailed reports for PCA to share with RDS providers for each tumour site once 20 completed surveys were returned
  • Recommendations for service improvements for each RDS provider
  • A bespoke dashboard, with three-monthly updates, to enable comparison between RDS providers and filterable by any criteria/demographic


RDS providers were able to obtain clear guidance for areas where pathways could be improved.

  1. Results highlighted some issues that patients had experienced due to the impact of COVID-19 - strategies that were addressed. For example, the team was able to take steps to make reasonable adjustments for patients who wanted more comfortable spaces to wait for tests. 

  2. Providers of RDS needed to provide GPs and referring clinicians with better information about the RDS so that they could manage patients’ expectations more effectively. The impact of many GP consultations occurring online exacerbated the need for clear information about RDS. It was suggested a link to the RDS information booklet could be sent to patients.  

  3. A greater understanding was needed about the best ways to deliver cancer and non-cancer diagnosis where face-to-face consultations were currently being kept to a minimum. This might for example be ensuring they have a relative/friend attend a telephone or video consultation with them to support where a diagnosis will be given. 

  4. A key wider benefit of RDS is also diagnosing serious non-cancer conditions more efficiently. The survey highlighted that clear information should be provided to patients about the next steps after their results are given, especially if the diagnosis is not clear and requires further testing.

Having the expertise of SCW to run surveys adds real value in helping us to understand the experience of someone going through a potential cancer diagnosis and allows us to implement improvements for the benefit of all our patients - RDS Manager, Peninsula Cancer Alliance

To find out more, contact Zoe Bristow, Clinical Project Manager, Cancer and Long-Term Conditions - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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