Cancer Research UK has warned of the potentially devastating consequences of the current coronavirus crisis for cancer victims throughout the UK. The charity estimates that around 2,700 fewer people per week are being diagnosed with cancer, a fall in numbers attributable to a pause in routine cancer screening and a reluctance on the part of patients to attend their GP with symptoms that might otherwise merit referral and further investigation, a situation compounded by difficulties in obtaining GP appointments in the first instance. Throughout March and April 2020 there has been a 75% decrease in GP referrals of patients with suspected cancer.

Professor Richard Sullivan, a cancer specialist at King's College in London, estimates that excess deaths due to delays in cancer diagnosis will eventually vastly exceed deaths caused directly by COVID-19 itself. In addition to the decline in GP referrals, he cites the large number of clinicians self-isolating at home as another problem in terms of existing cancer patients accessing treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Many immunocompromised cancer patients are likewise having to self-isolate and put their treatment on hold. Professor Sullivan warns of further negative outcomes likely to be caused by the huge backlog of patients needing treatment when the current lockdown ends and cancer services reopen. 

The NHS itself is still advising anyone with worrying symptoms to consult with their GP, albeit official guidelines issued in March say that only urgent and essential cancer treatment should continue at the present time.

Freeths Solicitors - How we can help

As clinical negligence lawyers we represent people who have suffered avoidable harm due to failures of medical care and delayed or inappropriate treatment. We know how difficult life can be for those who have suffered and for their families. We are able to assist by ensuring they have access to the services they require, have the funds to pay for private care and are compensated for the harm.

Freeths Clinical Negligence Solicitors have a national reputation for providing first class advice on all medical claims. If you are concerned about the medical care you or a loved one has received, please contact one of our national team free on  03301 001 014.

Phillip McGough, Clinical Negligence Legal Executive, 0845 050 3290/0115 936 9369 or

The Freeths Clinical Negligence Department is headed by:

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes/London) on 0186 578

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 272 5677

 Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724

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