MP calls for action to prevent deaths as cancer appointments missed due to backlog


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MORE than a hundred cancer appointments have been missed at the hospital trust serving South Lakeland due to Coronavirus (Covid-19), new figures reveal.

At University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), 148 cancer appointments were cancelled between March and mid-August.

Out of 25 NHS trusts that replied to a FOI survey, UHMBT recorded the third-highest number of cancer sessions lost to Covid.

Meanwhile, North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust revealed that 41 operations had been cancelled.

It is thought that as many as 35,000 deaths could result from a backlog in cancer care nationwide, owing to a vast mobilisation of resources during the spring months in order to combat the UK’s initial Covid-19 outbreak.

Referring to the critical care temporary hospitals that were set up at the height of the pandemic’s outbreak, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said last week that a ‘Nightingalesque’ effort was now required to ensure vital cancer care does not fall by the wayside, as the health service approaches the challenging autumn and winter period.

This week, Mr Farron called for urgent government intervention to help hospital trusts work through the care backlogs.

“These figures are deeply troubling and highlight the severe knock-on effect this pandemic has had on cancer patients,” he said.

“As chair of the All-Party Group on Radiotherapy I’ve written a joint letter to the Prime Minister, signed by over 100 MPs representing every party in Parliament, calling for a significant boost to cancer services to deal with the huge treatment backlog that has been created by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Government’s plans to get cancer services back up and running by the end of the year are nowhere near enough – we need action now if we are to prevent thousands of unnecessary cancer deaths.”

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