The operational delivery of cancer services in Greater Manchester is led by the Greater Manchester Directors of Operations Group. The group is made up of the Chief Operating Officers of all hospital trusts in the region.  The Directors of Operations draw in turn on the hospital cancer management teams across Greater Manchester to carry out this role.

Trust Cancer Leads Board

Each provider trust in Greater Manchester has up to three cancer leads: clinical, nursing and managerial. These trust cancer leads are a great source of knowledge and expertise and they are committed to improving cancer services across the region.

Clinical, nursing and managerial leads come together on a regular basis with the Greater Manchester Cancer team as a Trust Leads Board. The Trust Leads Board provides a vital forum for the discussion of common operational issues and the agreement of appropriate actions. The Board reports to the Greater Manchester Director of Operations Group.

Cancer waiting times

Cancer care is complex. Cancer patients are often seen in a number of hospitals to get the investigations that they need before they and their cancer specialists can make a decision about their treatment. This may mean that it is some time before patients are seen in the hospital where they have their treatment.

Cancer services are subject to a series of targets relating to how quickly people with a diagnosis of cancer should be treated. The most challenging of these targets is that no patient should wait more than 2 months (62 days) between an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer and starting their treatment if the cancer is confirmed. This is because it requires GPs and different types of clinicians, often working across different hospitals, to work together with patients to fit a lot of tests, discussions and clinic visits into a short space of time. In acknowledgement of this complexity NHS England asks that 85% of cancer patients start their treatment within 62 days.

Waiting times in Greater Manchester

All of Greater Manchester’s hospitals work together to make sure that cancer patients are treated as quickly as possible. To help us meet the 62-day target as a region our hospitals have agreed a system for the transfer of cancer patients between hospitals and the responsibilities of those involved (a communication and referral protocol, see below).

Sometimes this system does not work as we would all like it to. When there are problems that results in a breach of the national waiting time targets then, in our region, the hospitals involved often share responsibility for this or, if a patient experiences a lot of delays before they are referred to the treating hospital, the referring hospital may take full responsibility. This mature and collaborative agreement (the breach reallocation policy, see below) has been in place for some years, long before the development of Manchester Cancer.

Sometimes information on cancer waiting time performance is reported nationally that does not take into account the collaborative approach that Greater Manchester hospitals have worked hard on. This information paints an unrepresentative picture of the performance of the hospitals where the majority of cancer treatments take place because their performance is so markedly affected by what happens in referring hospitals.

For further information on the collaborative arrangements in place between Greater Manchester’s hospitals please take a look at the documents below.

Communication and referral policy

Breach reallocation policy

GM Lead Clinician for Cancer 2018

Our performance

As a region we have met the 62-day cancer waiting time target consistently since the third quarter of 2011/12. The region’s ability to meet this target is a direct result of the improvement work that took place at that time and the policies that were put in place. Greater Manchester’s historical and current performance is shown below.

Greater Manchester’s performance against the 62-day cancer waiting time target since 2011/12 compared with England as a whole


Through Greater Manchester Cancer, Greater Manchester’s hospitals continue to work together to keep improving cancer services in the region. Part of this work is to try and make sure that fewer cancer patients breach waiting time targets. In the meantime we will continue to work together as a group of hospitals to make sure that we share the responsibility for the breaches that unfortunately occur and learn from them for the future.