Coronavirus

Cancer taskforce launched to tackle COVID-19 backlog

A new cancer taskforce to tackle the backlog of cases that developed during the lockdown is being created.

Since March, when the lockdown was announced, Cancer Research UK believes three million people have missed a screening for cancer.

NHS England is hoping the newly formed taskforce will kick-start cancer services again and investigate how to improve and speed up referrals so it can clear the backlog of cases.

In a bid to increase safety during lockdown most GP appointments were done over the phone or virtually, so many people were not examined.

This year between March and July more than 207,000 people started cancer treatment, which is around 85% lower than the number treated during the same time period in 2019.

The new taskforce is being led by Professor Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer in England.

He said: “People have been staying away because they didn’t want to put pressure on the NHS when it was busy coping with a huge number of people with the coronavirus.

“We’re very keen that they should come back, and if anybody’s worried about symptoms, they should come forward now.

In the community:

“We are working to try and match the capacity that we have got, whether it’s across the NHS or in the independent sector, to the demand that we can see coming through,” Prof Johnson said.

“And we’re expecting during September and October that we’re probably going to see more than the usual number of people as we catch up.”

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