Local NHS organisations urge people to get cancer symptoms checked as GP referrals drop by 66%.

People across Coventry & Warwickshire who suspect they may have cancer symptoms are being urged to seek help despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Health leaders are stressing the importance of having worrying signs checked out as soon as possible.

Latest figures for England have revealed a sharp drop in cancer referrals as patients are not contacting their GP for health advice.

Referrals from GPs were down by 66 per cent in the week ending 19 April 2020 compared with the week ending 1 March 2020.

Research has found around a third of people would be worried about seeking out medical opinion on their symptoms.

Getting coronavirus or giving it to their family were among the top reasons that people would not come forward when they have cancer symptoms, along with fears that they could be a burden to the health service.

‘Help Us Help You’ - a major public information campaign - has now been launched to encourage people to contact their GP if they are experiencing the signs of cancer.

Professor Kiran Patel, Clinical Lead for the Coventry & Warwickshire Health & Care Partnership and Chief Medical Officer at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust said: "Whilst we have been working tirelessly to tackle the impact of Covid-19, the delivery of cancer services has remained a high priority. Our cancer teams have worked extremely hard to ensure that all essential and urgent cancer diagnosis, treatment and care safely continues during the pandemic".

Carole Bailey, Lead Cancer Nurse at UHCW said: “It is important that our patients can continue to safely access the best cancer care and treatment at this time. During the pandemic, there have been some necessary changes to the way in which we deliver cancer services, with some patients being seen and treated at alternative sites, whilst continuing safe treatments and care. We have continued to support patients and their families where possible via telephone to reduce the number of face to face hospital visits in a bid to keep everyone safe. It is important that if you have any symptoms that you are worried about, then you must contact your GP”.

Nigel Sturrock, Medical Director at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said: “NHS staff have made huge efforts to deal with coronavirus but they are also working hard to ensure that patients can safely access essential services such as cancer checks and urgent surgery.

“From online consultations to the roll-out of cancer treatment hubs, we are doing all we can to make sure patients receive the life-saving care that they need. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it is treatment will be successful and the higher the chance of survival. So even in these stressful times it’s vital people don’t delay seeking help with cancer symptoms.”

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