The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge effect on healthcare services. As highlighted in our blog post of December 2020, thousands of routine operations in the South East were cancelled as NHS Trusts in London, Essex and Kent struggled to cope with rising admissions for Covid-19.

New data has been released by Cancer Research UK revealing that the number of people urgently referred for suspected lung cancer fell by around 34% between March 2020 and January 2021 compared with the same time period in 2019/2020. This equates to over 20,000 people missing out on vital care.

There was also a 9% decline in people beginning their treatment for lung cancer between April 2020 and January 2021 meaning about 2,600 fewer people started treatment, compared with the year before.

It’s well-known that early detection and treatment of cancer can be lifesaving, so the above figures are worrying.

There are a number of factors that have been identified as contributing to the data reported: These include hesitation amongst patients to attend hospital appointments for tests for fear of catching the virus, difficulty in recognising the symptoms of lung cancer over virtual consultation and the unfortunate similarities between Covid-19 and lung cancer symptoms, which can cast doubt over the cause of a patient’s cough.

Meanwhile, a further new study has revealed that a large proportion of elective surgery such as hip and knee replacements have come to a standstill during the pandemic. This has left thousands of patients with a very poor quality of life whilst they wait for surgery to resume. The president of the British Orthopaedic Association said the findings underlined the “misery and despair” felt by people with severe arthritis who were currently waiting for a new joint.

The above data has prompted calls for more support governmental support for the NHS. The Chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, Dr Richard Vautrey, has called for the government to take steps to support primary care and ensure that hospitals have both adequate staff numbers and resources to resume care for all patients.

For more information

If you, or a loved one, has been adversely affected by a delay in diagnosis or treatment, or are concerned about the treatment you have received, then please contact a member of our team for a free, confidential discussion.

Although we are, for the time being, not able to meet clients in person, our specialist clinical negligence team at Freeths is here to support and advise clients. We are available for meetings and consultations via telephone, email, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and any other digital platform that works for you.

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/London/Bristol/Milton Keynes) on 0186 578 1019

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham/Manchester/Liverpool) on 0845 274 6830

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