Londoners with cancer fears least likely in country to be sent to hospital for checks

Londoners who fear they have cancer are less likely than patients elsewhere in the country to be sent for hospital checks, health campaigners revealed today.

About 11,000 fewer referrals than normal were made by GPs in the capital in July – 29 per cent down on the same month last year.

Across England as a whole, there was a 19 per cent drop in people being sent for a 14-day check.

In addition, the number of Londoners starting life-saving or life-extending treatment was down 27 per cent, or 932 cases, from 3,405 in July last year to 2,473 this July. The England-wide fall was 24 per cent.

Though the number being seen and treated is increasing month on month as hospital services expand capacity as they recover from the pandemic near-shutdown, Macmillan Cancer Support says the London figures show how the impact of Covid “continues to wreak havoc on cancer care in the capital”.

NHS England figures show 27,226 Londoners were referred for cancer checks in July following an urgent GP referral, down from 38,262 a year earlier. This could be because Londoners fear being sent to hospital or because of a backlog in the system caused by lower capacity.

Sara Bainbridge, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This adds up to a worrying backlog.

“Behind each statistic is a real person whose prognosis and treatment options could be severely impacted by disruption during Covid-19. 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.

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“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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