The number of patients with cancer referred from screening services has fallen to nearly a third of pre-covid levels, new data shows.
A total of 2,604 patients had their cancer picked up by screening services between April to July. This compares to 7,204 in the same period last year.
The NHS England data covers patients receiving treatment within two months of a referral from screening services. This means the April 2020 data is largely from screening carried out before cOVID-19 saw services being shut down.
From May to July this year, 1,243 patients were treated after a referral from screening services, compared to 5,406 in the same period last time.
NHS England which commissions screening services from trusts said no central decision had been taken to halt screening at the height of the outbreak but said: “We know that some local providers did take the decision to pause and in those cases plans are in place to get services fully up and running again.”
The national screening programmes look for bowel, breast and cervical cancers.
Head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support Sara Bainbridge said: ”Behind every missed target is a real person whose prognosis and treatment options could be severely impacted by these delays. It’s vital that people see their GP if they have symptoms, and anyone who is worried about cancer needs to know that they’ll be seen promptly and safely."
“Cancer must not become the forgotten ‘C’ during this pandemic – we urgently need the government to deliver the promised recovery plan and make sure the NHS has all the staffing and resources it needs to get cancer services back on track.”
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Source: HSJ, 10 September 2020