Patients will undergo diagnostic tests for cancer within seven days of concerns being raised, prime minister Gordon Brown is to pledge.

The commitment will be honoured by Labour by the end of the next five year Parliament, if the party is elected at the next general election, the prime minister will say at the Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton.

The plan, which will see initial tests being carried out within seven days and a patient seeing a specialist within 14 days, will cost £1bn.

Funds for the programme will be made available as the government’s hospital rebuilding project comes to an end, allowing it to direct resources towards diagnosis capacity and improving primary or community care facilities.

Labour claims the focus on early diagnosis could save up to 10,000 lives per year and achieve one of the best survival rates in the world.

A new five year plan on diagnostic capacity is expected to be announced in the autumn.