Cancer treatment waits reveal ‘catastrophic impact’ of Covid

Waiting times for cancer treatment reveal the "catastrophic impact" of the coronavirus pandemic, a charity has said.

It comes after it was revealed dozens of cancer patients at hospital trusts in the Black Country and Staffordshire had been waiting longer than the two-month target for treatment in February.

Mair Dyer, Macmillan strategic partnership manager in the Midlands, said number of patients starting treatment remains "lower than they'd expect".

Mair said: “This data further illustrates the catastrophic impact that Covid-19 has had on cancer diagnoses and treatment.

"We have seen many of our local NHS partners doing everything they can to avoid disruption to cancer services and, in many cases, they have changed the way their clinics are operating to ensure people are getting the right treatment and support.

"Whilst we see there has been a marginal improvement in terms of urgent referrals, the number of people starting treatment remains lower than we’d expect.

"We are concerned that more people are still missing a diagnosis due to disruption caused by the pandemic or their reluctance to get checked for fear of overwhelming the system and this could affect their prognosis.

"We’re actively encouraging people to speak to their GP if they’re worried about any signs or symptoms they may have.

“It’s vital that cancer services continue to be prioritised and that those with cancer are not forgotten. To address the extensive challenges that lie ahead, the NHS urgently needs a long-term, fully funded plan for its workforce, ensuring there are more dedicated staff are able to provide the best care for cancer patients, now and in the future.”

Lonely journey for one patient

Jerry Dawson, from Bearwood, has spoken of his cancer treatment and the effect lockdown has had on him

A Black Country man has spoken out about being diagnosed and treated for cancer on his own due to the Covid pandemic. Jerry Dawson was diagnosed with testicular cancer in late 2020, having lost his big brother Dexter to the disease years before.

The 42-year-old had to attend the appointment on his own when he was told he had cancer. He has since had an operation and chemotherapy, and had to isolate alone in his home.

Jerry, an ex-professional dancer from Bearwood, said: “In December 2020, I had surgery to remove my testicle and have just recently finished one round of chemotherapy.

“Doing all of this on my own was really emotionally draining and without the specialist cancer nurses on hand to reassure me I don’t know how I would have coped. It was a very lonely journey.

“Macmillan was there for me in my time of need, they had advice and support in many areas, which I found was a great source of comfort.”

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