Covid-19 Response

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:57 pm on 22nd April 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 12:57 pm, 22nd April 2020

I would like to be absolutely clear—as I was at the Health and Social Care Committee meeting, which was a very good discussion—on the point about cancer treatment. There is some cancer treatment that it is clinically inadvisable to undertake during an epidemic like this, because if somebody’s immune system is taken down to very low levels, that puts them at significant risk, so I cannot give the guarantee that all cancer treatment would go ahead. Even though we now have capacity in the NHS and confidence that that capacity will not be over-capped by the virus, the virus is still at large in the community, so there are some cancer treatments, especially in relation to immunotherapy, that it is clinically inadvisable to undertake now.

Having said all that, yes, we do want people to come forward, and we want as much cancer treatment as possible to go ahead, where it is safe to do so considering the impact of the virus. That is why I want people to come forward if they have a risk, and we will treat them as best as we possibly can within the constraints of the fact that we have a very serious virus stalking the land.