The Health Secretary Matt Hancock is under fire this morning after saying yesterday, cancer patients will only be guaranteed treatment if Covid-19 stays ‘under control’. Hancock came out with this statement as he faced a grilling from MPs over an Excel spreadsheet blunder which saw a huge backdating or COVID-19 cases.
Whilst speaking in the Commons yesterday the Health Secretary stated that it was ‘critical for everybody to understand the best way to keep cancer services running is to suppress the disease’. Hancock then went on to say that hundreds of thousands of patients may face delays to planned surgery and chemotherapy if the outbreak goes out of control.
Figures show that almost 2.5million people missed out on cancer screening, referrals or treatment during the harshest lockdown back in March and April. Amid fears of an upcoming crisis in cancer treatment surgeons have worriedly called, as a minimum, for hospital beds to be ‘ring-fenced’ for planned operations during the pandemic, to avoid cancellations.
Hancock said in the commons: ‘It’s critical for everybody to understand that the best way to keep cancer services running is to suppress the disease and the more the disease is under control the more we can both recover and continue with cancer treatments’.
Back in July Sir Simon Stevens who is the head of the NHS in England wrote to NHS trusts to say that saying, in September, they should hit at least 80 per cent of their last year’s activity for both overnight planned procedures and for outpatient or day case procedures. However, the Royal College of Surgeons has claimed that its analysis has shown that trusts were not hitting the target. The reasons cited for this included surgeons being forced to wait for coronavirus test results and a lack of access to operating theatre space.