The COVID 19 pandemic has caused major disruption within the healthcare sector. As hospitals across the country were forced to focus on treating virus patients, routine appointments and procedures were cut back.
Cancer patients were some of the first to suffer from the disruption, with some even missing out on the crucial treatment they needed.
Study finds significant drop in bowel cancer diagnosis
A new study carried out by the University of Oxford has revealed a significant drop in bowel cancer diagnosis. Researchers from across the country worked together to assess the numbers of referrals for bowel cancer, diagnosis and treatment in England. They looked at cases from January 2019 to October 2020.
Compared to the average month in 2019, in 2020 the study showed that GP referrals to hospitals for bowel cancer investigation, were down by 63%. The number of referrals for confirmed bowel cancer patients also dropped by 22%. This means there were 3,500 less patients diagnosed with the condition compared to 2019.
Sadly, this isn’t down to a reduction in cases. Instead, it is down to patients not receiving the care they need to get a diagnosis.
Thousands of patients went without treatment
The diagnosis of bowel cancer wasn’t the only thing to suffer during the lockdowns. Thousands of patients have also been left without treatment. The number of colonoscopies for example, dropped by 92% in April 2020.
While levels did largely return to normal by October 2020, the deficiencies caused during the first wave of the virus are taking their toll on patients. As many patients were not diagnosed during the lockdown, it also means they too missed getting the vital treatment they needed. This will ultimately lead to more deaths which could have been prevented.
NHS campaign launched to ensure patients get the help they need
In a bid to tackle the growing concern that people aren’t getting the help that they need, the NHS has launched a new campaign. Entitled ‘Help Us to Help You’, the campaign urges patients to continue to seek help during the pandemic.
The drop in referrals could be down to falling GP visits. Patients have understandably been concerned about visiting their GP during the pandemic. However, this new campaign helps to ease patient concerns, informing them of the safety measures in place.
Online consultations and cancer treatment hubs are just two measures that have been introduced as a response to the ongoing pandemic. The NHS has also provided useful information on the cancer symptoms to watch out for.
Patients who do suspect they have bowel cancer should see their GP as soon as possible. Like any type of cancer, the chance of successfully treating bowel cancer improves the earlier it is discovered. There are safety measures in place to protect patients while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
For more information on the patient protection measures we have in place, call 020 3137 2892 to speak to one of the team. Below are links to the COVID patient information at the London clinics that Dr Jamie Murphy operates from.