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Huge drop in urgent cancer referrals in Bucks

Lockdown has had a huge impact on the number of referrals from GPs.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 5:40am 16th June 2020. 3-minute read.

Huge drop in urgent cancer referrals in Bucks

The number of people sent for urgent cancer investigations at Buckinghamshire Healthcare has plummeted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

The number of urgent cancer referrals from GP's to Bucks NHS Trust hospitals has almost halved from 2019 to 2020. 

In the month of April last years 1,265 referrals were made, while there have only been 664 people seen by a specialist this year.

This is a drop of 48% although the national decrease was higher at 70%. 

Lynda Thomas, Macmillan's chief executive, said the latest figures are a "sobering demonstration" of the impact of Covid-19 on cancer services:

"The pandemic has wreaked havoc on cancer care. Many people with cancer are being left to wait for next steps in fear, worrying about the long-term implications for their health, their families and their future.

“We’ve been calling for an urgent recovery plan for NHS cancer services since April, to ensure cancer does not become the forgotten ‘C’ throughout this crisis.

"UK governments must now urgently commit to measures to address the backlog, including the allocation of the staffing and resources needed to deliver the safest possible care."

These figures are more concerning when the wait for treatment is considered. 

In Bucks Trust Hospitals 78 people started treatment following an urgent GP referral. 

Of those, 25 had waited over 2 months to since this referral to begin.

Neil MacDonald, CE of Bucks NHS Trust told Mix96 last week that one issue being face is the delivery of regular services are taking much longer due to social distancing and cleaning.

Which means the length of time something takes is now longer with capacity still limited.

Sarah Woolnough, executive director of policy and information at charity Cancer Research UK, said thousands of people are now facing a backlog in treatment:

“It’s devastating to see the impact that Covid-19 is having on cancer patients and these figures show just how much the virus has affected cancer waiting times", she said.

“The NHS has been working hard to create ‘Covid-protected’ spaces for cancer services. An essential part of this is frequent testing of NHS staff and patients, including those without symptoms, so that vulnerable patients aren’t put at risk of contracting the virus."

People are being urged to continue to contact their doctor if they are worried about a medical issue, with nearly all GP surgeries offering video appointments in Bucks.

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