Cancer Services during COVID-19

Healthwatch in Sussex responded to patient concerns about cancer services in Sussex.  A webinar was coordinated between three local Healthwatch with the help of Sussex Health and Care Partnership. One hundred people across Sussex registered for the event. Healthwatch in Sussex arranged for cancer patients and their families to hear from three cancer experts. The event attracted media attention including our facilitator being interviewed by the BBC and Latest TV.

THIS IS WHAT WE HEARD:

· Cancer screenings are currently limited: Cervical screenings are being risk-stratified and breast and bowel screenings are in the process of resuming soon.

·Endoscopy and colonoscopy tests are available but delayed: Patients will be required to undergo 14-day isolation periods prior to both.

·Patients are urged NOT to hold back from contacting their GP with cancer-related concerns. GPs are open but are using remote communication with patients such as telephone and video consultations.   

·Patients have not been lost in the system: But the focus on handling coronavirus patients has created some delays. Rehabilitation services have re-started.

·Patients SHOULD ATTEND hospital appointments: Appropriate and safe measures are in place to avoid the risk of COVID infection.

·Movement towards managed self-care: Cancer specialists have reduced unnecessary appointments in favour of self-management at home with specialists contactable when required.

·Cancer shielding has lifted slightly with 90% of oncology appointments continuing via telephone and video.
 
·COVID-19 not as risky to cancer patients undergoing treatment, latest studies show.

·Clinicians fear an influx of referrals once restrictions are lifted.  Figures show a 60% reduction in referrals to cancer specialists and to related services during lockdown.
 
·New lockdown methods are here to stay: Telephone and video consultations with GP and hospital staff will continue as a preference for non-essential face-to-face contact.

·Cancer Support services are still available via Macmillan, now using telephone support and online sessions to reach patients. 

The recording and full report can be downloaded below

To access the slides used by the presenters in the webinar:

FINAL Healthwatch Cancer Webinar presentation slides 11June2020

Some helpful resources regarding

Useful websites

The Macmillan Horizon Centre – See also for their June-July 2020 activities.

Cancer Care Map for cancer support services in your area

Macmillan – Coronavirus information with links to many resources

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust FAQs

Further information

For further information, please visit our recent update on the NHS ‘Open for business’ campaign plus cancer support.

For information on telephone buddies, please read: Telephone Buddies – English Version

For people based in East Sussex, please read: Help and support for people affected by cancer in East Sussex.

Cancer Webinar Summary Report June 2020