Your NHS in Buckinghamshire is urging anyone who is concerned they may have cancer symptoms not to waste a moment in contacting their health services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Identifying cancers as early as possible can make a huge difference to the success of treatments and recovery speeds.
And, since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a fall in the number of people GPs would normally refer into cancer diagnosis and treatment services.
Recent research, by Portland Research Group, suggests too many people are avoiding using their health services at the moment, even if they have serious concerns. The top reasons given for this are worries about getting coronavirus or passing it on to loved ones, and being a burden to the NHS.
But measures are in place at GP surgeries and hospitals to keep people as safe as possible from catching the virus, by keeping patients with coronavirus in separate areas. And your health services want to help you as soon as possible – not only does this improve the chances of effective treatment, but delays can ultimately lead to more complex treatments being needed and cause a greater burden on the NHS.
GPs are currently giving consultations over the phone and inviting patients in only when it is appropriate. And coronavirus-free cancer hubs have been set up to provide surgery where necessary, supported by cooperation from hospitals in the independent sector. Any decisions about referring patients for treatment will be carefully taken to keep people as healthy and safe as possible during the pandemic.
Dr Raj Thakkar, Director for Planned Care at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We understand this is a very concerning time for people, and we are all conscious of how important it is to avoid catching coronavirus. But it is also essential that anyone who suspects they have cancer symptoms should contact us as soon as possible. We have been working extremely hard to make sure patients can safely access essential services when they need to, like cancer diagnosis or urgent surgery. By delaying that vital call, people may be putting their lives at risk.”
Andrew McLaren, Cancer Lead for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “It is really important people seek help as they always would. Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer saves lives every day, while ignoring symptoms can have very serious health consequences. We are still here to help all of our population, not only those with coronavirus. So please use your health services when you need to – making the right call now could save your life.”
Mrs Jennifer Graystone, Lead Clinician, Thames Valley Cancer Alliance, said: “In Thames Valley, it is important to know that cancer services are still here for people who need them. If you have any concerning symptoms, you should contact your GP who will be able to assess your needs. Across the Thames Valley, we are committed to providing cancer treatment to people who need it as safely and as quickly as possible.”
For more information on spotting signs of cancer, please go to nhs.uk/cancer