Improving the effectiveness of multidisciplinary team meetings in cancer services

graphic depicting an MDT

MDT meetings

Our research aiming to improve the effectiveness of MDT meetings in cancer services.

Exec. summary

Full report

Central to the UK’s cancer services are multidisciplinary teams – MDTs. An MDT is made up of a variety of health professionals involved in treating and caring for patients, such as surgeons, clinicians, nurses and diagnosticians. Each week, the MDT meets to discuss individual patients’ cases and make treatment recommendations. 

MDT working is considered the gold standard for cancer patient management[1], bringing continuity of care and reducing variation in access to treatment – and ultimately improving outcomes for patients. However, the health service has changed significantly since their introduction in 1995. 

The number of patients to be discussed in MDT meetings has grown significantly, as has the complexity of patients; due to an ageing population and the growing number of treatment options available. 

Meeting patients’ needs: improving the effectiveness of multidisciplinary team meetings in cancer services highlights the need to refresh the format of multidisciplinary team meetings. The report contains several UK-wide recommendations, aiming to streamline and optimise MDT meetings in order to better meet the needs of patients today and in the future. 

This research involved observations of 624 patient discussions in MDT meetings across the UK, two surveys of MDT members – gaining 2,300 and 1,250 responses respectively – and a survey of people affected by cancer. 

In 2020, NHS England published new guidance for streamlining MDT meetings, following a successful pilot programme and evaluation with 10 MDTs. 

We’re pleased that this new guidance reflects all of the key recommendations from Meeting patients’ needs. These important changes could impact the decision-making process for the majority of cancer patients in England, and could free up time for key workforce groups. 

We will continue to monitor the implementation of this guidance. 

Join us on Twitter/X

Join the conversation and follow @CRUK_Policy for news, updates and opinion.


Last reviewed