Cancer: Coronavirus

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 26th April 2021.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on people diagnosed with cancer.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The NHS Cancer Programme is currently establishing a task and finish group to review alterations and/or disruptions to care pathways, including services for those with secondary breast cancer, during the pandemic. Once a group has been established the group will consider the most appropriate data sources with which to make this assessment.

Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a top priority for the Government throughout the pandemic. From March 2020 to the end of January 2021, 1.86 million people have been urgently referred and over 477,000 people started receiving cancer treatment. First and subsequent cancer treatments have been maintained at 87% of the level in 2019.

The Government has taken a number of steps to ensure people can continue to access high-quality cancer care throughout the pandemic. For example, there are currently 65 live regional diagnostic centre pathways across hospitals in England, compared to 12 in March 2020.

Additionally, COVID-19 protected hubs for cancer surgery have been established to keep vulnerable cancer patients safe. This particularly protects cancer patients from immunocompromised infection. All 21 Cancer Alliances across England have arrangements in place for surgical cancer hubs. Adults experiencing cancer can access Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) mental health services, which provide evidence based therapies for people with anxiety disorders and depression. The implementation of IAPT/long term condition pathways has been identified as a priority to support integration of mental health and physical health services for people with co-morbid long term conditions, such as cancer.

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