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Cancer appointments are safe – please attend if you are asked to

3rd August 2020

Together with hospital trusts across the region, Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance is reassuring people that it is safe to attend cancer appointments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

People who are being tested or treated for cancer are being urged to keep their appointments. New measures are in place to help protect patients and staff from coronavirus, it is important to not delay cancer treatment.

Cancer assessment and treatments are still happening during the pandemic. New innovations such as video consultation, reviewing photographs of skin lesions and arranging urgent tests are helping the recovery process. Meanwhile, specialised surgical hubs are helping to ensure patients receive safe and timely operations for cancer. 

Mr Ian Arthur, Clinical Lead for Cancer Services and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We know that some people are concerned about attending cancer appointments with their doctor or at the hospital due to the pandemic. It is really important that people do attend these appointments because early treatment improves the quality of life after a cancer diagnosis has been made and can save lives.”

Mel Zeiderman, Programme Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance, said:

“We understand many people with cancer are anxious about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their treatment and care. Cancer specialists and local teams throughout the NHS are working together to ensure that cancer services can be delivered as safely as possible. Cancer services are still available, and the NHS is here for you.”

Dr Sarah Hauxwell, Histopathologist, Clinical Director Core Clinical Services and Lead Cancer Clinician for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Coming into hospital is a different experience than you will have had previously. A number of safety measures have been put in place to help protect patients and staff from coronavirus during treatment. These include additional signage and floor markings to promote social distancing, infection control measures and all staff and patients will be wearing protective face masks.”

Dr Alison Birtle, Consultant Clinical Oncologist for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Phone and video consultations have been introduced to hospitals in the area. But there might be situations when you still do need to see your doctor or team for a face-to-face appointment or to attend the hospital for treatment. It’s vital that you do attend appointments if you are asked to do so.”

Mr Daren Subar, Consultant for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“If you have been diagnosed with cancer it’s important that you do continue with your current treatment and care plan as agreed with your healthcare team. Talk to your healthcare team about the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on your treatment plan as they know about your individual situation and will try to work with you to find the best plan for you.”

What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Do not attend and please cancel your appointment if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. The main symptoms are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:

  • Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
  • Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

If you are worried about your symptoms or you’re not sure what to do use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ call NHS 111 if you can’t get help online. Do not go to places like a GP practice, hospital, or pharmacy.

Hear from our cancer clinicians in this short video