Currently in the fast-access breast clinic at Eastbourne District General Hospital, the specialist determines the level of urgency of a referral. With the new '2-week wait' imposed by the Government since 1 April 1999, the determination of urgency has transferred to the general practitioner. Therefore, we decided to audit the current situation to see whether the guidelines were adequate for this change of emphasis. A total of 100 consecutive patients referred to the fast-access breast clinic were evaluated to assess the quality of referrals and the effectiveness of the clinic. Only 80% of the referrals adhered to the guidelines; 73% of the referrals were deemed by the specialist to be urgent and seen within the 2-week time period. All patients who were subsequently diagnosed as having breast cancer were seen within 2 weeks. The audit indicates that further specific changes could be made to the guidelines to improve the referral practice
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