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Rapid Diagnosis Clinics Programme

The Rapid Diagnosis Clinics (RDC) Programme was established in 2021 to support the implementation and sustainability of an RDC service in all Welsh health boards.

The RDCs in Wales are based on a model developed in Denmark and were piloted between 2017-2019 by a partnership between the Wales Cancer Network, Swansea Bay and Cwm Tâf Morgannwg health boards, which showed that they offer a cost-effective solution to improving outcomes

Welsh RDCs provide a timely and holistic route to diagnosis for patients with vague symptoms who do not fit the criteria for a standard suspected cancer referral, because of the absence of clear ‘red flag’ symptoms.

The pilots additionally showed that RDCs are effective at quickly diagnosing a range of other serious health conditions as well as providing prompt reassurance to those with no significant diagnosis. They therefore contribute towards the ambitions of ‘A Healthier Wales’. 

In short, RDCs aim to:

  • Support earlier diagnosis for patients with vague, non-specific symptoms that could be cancer
  • Reduce the number of cancers diagnosed via emergency presentation
  • Improve overall patient health outcomes by detecting cancer earlier
  • Improve patient and GP experience
  • Identify and manage other serious non-malignant disease or those at risk of developing serious illness.

The RDC Programme has defined a data set which is currently being used by health boards offering an RDC service.

Further work is under way to develop a National RDC Dashboard which will automatically collate and present this information. This will enable the WCN and health boards to monitor RDC services across Wales, drive innovation and improve the care pathway of those patients presenting with vague symptoms.

An external evaluation of the RDC programme was published in 2024. This evaluation measured the impact of the national programme, assessed the 'nationally-driven and locally-delivered” approach and provided key conclusions and recommendations to support the sustainability of RDCs across Wales.

The Evaluation of RDCs can be found below:

Executive summary

Evaluation report

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.

Prior to the setting up of RDCs, these patients would potentially have poorer experience, later diagnoses and poorer outcomes compared with other patients referred on traditional tumour-specific pathways.

The RDC model addresses this inequality in Wales by offering a vague symptom pathway for patients with non-specific but concerning symptoms which may indicate cancer.

Following the success of the pilots, the Wales Cancer Network collaborated with colleagues and organisations from across NHS Wales to implement a national programme of RDCs across Wales. 

There is now an RDC service up and running in six of the seven Welsh health boards, with Powys patients having access to RDCs in adjacent health boards.

The RDC Vague Symptoms Pathway has been formally endorsed and sits alongside other agreed National Optimal Pathways under the Suspected Cancer Pathways (SCP) programme.

RDC Service Specification