In a further indictment of the 12-month drive to “protect the NHS”, new analysis reveals that nearly 11,000 women could be living with undiagnosed breast cancer. The charity Breast Cancer Now has said that “the tragic cost of almost 11,000 missing breast cancer diagnoses is that in the worst cases, women could die from the disease”. The Telegraph has the story.
A reluctance to burden the health service during the pandemic’s first wave, coupled with a drop in GP referrals and suspensions of screening programmes is wreaking a “tragic cost”…
Research by the charity Breast Cancer Now found there were 10,700 fewer people diagnosed with breast cancer across the UK between March and December last year.
The team analysed a range of data to reach the figure, including the number of people starting their first treatment for breast cancer, the number of women screened each month and the length of time for which services were paused.
During the first wave of the pandemic, breast screening services were paused for different amounts of time across the UK, including around four months in Scotland and five months in Wales.
While services were not officially paused in England, Breast Cancer Now said this still happened because hospitals turned their attention to fighting Covid.
Overall, it said nearly 1.2 million fewer women in the UK underwent breast screening between March and December.
Meanwhile, there was a 90,000 drop in referrals to a specialist for patients with possible symptoms of breast cancer in England between March and December.
Even though services have resumed, the charity said they are operating at around 60% capacity due to the need for social distancing and infection control.
In January, “Dr J”, a medical doctor, drew attention to the risks of turning the NHS into a Covid-only service, saying: “It’s a brave new world… but at least the NHS is protected and there for all of us… unless you’ve got something other than COVID-19, that is.” Dr Karol Sikora has also written that “fear and scaremongering is being used to keep people out of hospital”.
The effect of this on our public health is catastrophic.
Worth reading in full.