Trusts have been warned not to delay urgent diagnostic tests as part of efforts to reduce overall waiting times. The warning came in guidance on 'choice of scan': the policy to offer patients alternative providers of diagnostics in order to shorten waiting times.

Trusts have been warned not to delay urgent diagnostic tests as part of efforts to reduce overall waiting times. The warning came in guidance on 'choice of scan': the policy to offer patients alternative providers of diagnostics in order to shorten waiting times.

The guidance advises trusts on phase three of the policy, from May next year, when patients waiting for most imaging scans should be offered an alternative provider if they cannot be seen within 13 weeks.

It offers a checklist of suggestions to help implement the policy, including redesigning job roles, extending days and weekend sessions, and identifying duplicate entries on different waiting lists.

And the guidance makes explicit the need to deal with urgent cases first: 'It is critical that patients waiting for urgent tests, such as those with known or suspected cancer, continue to be treated as a priority.'