Dr Karol Sikora

Restarting NHS Cancer Services

by Professor Karol Sikora Date: May 18th 2020 Purpose This briefing note sets out a proposal for how the Independent Sector can support the recovery of NHS cancer services in England to pre-pandemic levels. Background As infection and mortality rates start to decline, the NHS has entered its second phase response to COVID-19. Continued vigilance is required to mitigate the risk of a second outbreak. Recently announced cancer metrics demonstrate a significant reduction in the number of consultant referrals, and new patients taking up radiotherapy and systemic anti-cancer therapies (SACT) is minimal. There is an urgency to restore cancer services to pre-pandemic levels as soon as possible, to minimise the potential harm caused by the current disruption to services. Additional capacity is also needed to handle the backlog of patients and to get the NHS back on track to delivering the ambitions of the Long-Term Plan. However, service planning needs to remain vigilant of the risks of a 2nd wave and ensure that services are delivered safely. The Issues There are a broad range of issues to be addressed: Referrals Patients are choosing not to present at their GPs due to a fear of exposure to infection. This will result in a delay of patients entering the system for diagnosis. They need to be assured that their concerns about symptoms...

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