Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 8

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has told trusts that they must focus on two key targets for reducing cancer times, the deadlines for which fall at the end of the year.

Speaking at a National Cancer Waits Project briefing in London, Ms Hewitt said some trusts were not making the expected progress towards starting treatment for all patients with cancer within 31 days of a decision to treat and 62 days of an urgent GP referral.

The targets are being substantially met for breast cancer, but Ms Hewitt said data collection and waits for diagnostic tests were 'particular obstacles that must be overcome' to meet them across the board.

Despite this, the health secretary said there had been 'clear and impressive' improvements in cancer diagnosis, treatment and care since the 10-year NHS cancer plan was launched in September 2000.

She said that the aim should be to 'maintain this momentum of reform'.