NHS Trust postpones routine cancer treatment for two weeks to ease strain on the health service

NHS Trust cancels cancer treatment for two weeks (PA Images)
13:51pm, Tue 24 Mar 2020
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An NHS Trust has started to postpone cancer treatment in order to prioritise coronavirus patients.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust said it had cancelled chemotherapy and routine cancer operations for a fortnight. 

The Trust, believed to be among the first too take such steps, said in a statement: “These measures will help us to protect our patients, including those with covid-19, and those with other conditions. They will also enable us to help us be as prepared as possible by training additional clinical teams who are not specialists in respiratory illness.

“We are reviewing these patients to ensure no harm will come to them by delaying their treatment.”

The Trust has reacted as 'we are now seeing an increase in the number of seriously ill patients (who have tested positive for COVID-19) at our hospitals, which is only going to increase in the days and weeks ahead'.

Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician told HSJ: "Unfortunately we are starting to see the impact at individual trusts and treatment decisions will have to be based on resource allocation to those most likely to benefit and most in need across all areas of medicine. 

"It's likely that cancer treatment decisions will be affected, with treatments known to extend overall survival outcomes prioritised."

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An NHS spokesperson added: "Hospitals have been told that cancer treatment and other clinically urgent care should continue to be prioritised."