GPs and clinicians in Oxfordshire are supporting a national NHS campaign reminding people that cancer care is still available during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey showed that nearly half of the public would delay or not seek medical help at all, with 22 per cent not wanting to burden the health service, and a similar number saying that fear of getting COVID-19 or passing it onto others was a major reason for not getting help. NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to keep cancer services going throughout the pandemic, with almost one million people referred for checks or starting treatment since the virus took hold. A recent study also showed that more than 6,000 patients who underwent endoscopy at 18 NHS hospitals since the start of the pandemic did not contract COVID-19 as a result of their treatment.
Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Clinical Chair of Oxfordshire CCG, said: “If anyone has concerns or worries about their health, particularly symptoms of cancer, then we would strongly encourage them to get in contact with their GP for advice. “We will be able to reassure you, or if necessary get you to see a specialist quickly and safely. It is important to remember that the sooner cancer symptoms are picked up and treated, the better.”
Initial telephone consultations or video appointments mean people do not necessarily need to go to GP surgeries for check-ups, and if they do need to be seen in person then there will be measures in place to keep them safe.
Symptoms of cancer include:
• Changes in bowel habits, including blood in your poo
• Unexplained weight loss
• A lump
• Persistent bloating
• Pain that does not go away
Oxfordshire’s cancer diagnostic and treatment centres are based at the Churchill Hospital, which is a regional centre of excellence, as well as other specialist services in the John Radcliffe and Horton General Hospitals. Nick Maynard, Cancer Lead at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We can absolutely reassure our patients that we can still provide all necessary cancer treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have robust measures in place to keep them safe should they need to come and see us.
“Patient safety is paramount to us – whether that is protecting them from COVID-19, or providing the care they need to treat their cancer. With many cancers, early detection is a key part of successful treatment.
“The key message is to seek medical help if you have any symptoms of cancer, and please do continue to attend any appointments for investigations and treatment – we are here to help you and will do everything we can to keep you safe.”