‘Help Us Help You’ campaign launched to get cancer referrals back up

NELCSU headquarters in Finsbury. Picture: Google

NELCSU headquarters in Finsbury. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

Primary care advisers have launched a campaign to get cancer referrals back up to pre-pandemic levels.

The North East London Commissioning Support Unit (NELCSU), which supports primary care (GPs and community health services) in improving health services, has launched is Help Us Help You campaign urging residents in Havering, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets not to ignore persistent tummy troubles.

The number of cancer patients starting treatment between April and July 2020 in the UK fell by 26 per cent (31, 000) compared with the same period in 2019, according to figures analysed by Cancer Research UK.

The charity said the drop is from a reduction in the number of people being referred to or attending secondary care (hospitals), as well as the pause of screening programmes and some diagnostic tests because of the pandemic.

According to NHS England statistics, while there was a significant dip in referrals for these cancers at the peak of the first Covid-19 wave, more people are now coming forward for checks.

Dr Philippa Kaye, media medic, said: “As both a GP and someone who has had bowel cancer myself, I have seen the situation from both sides and can honestly say, if you’re experiencing any tummy troubles for a few weeks, your GP will want to know about it. Hopefully it’s nothing serious but if it is cancer there are lots of treatment options available and the earlier cancer is found, the better.”

Symptoms to be mindful of include diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area for three weeks or more as they could be a sign of cancer.

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Figures for England show that urgent suspected lung cancer referrals have been the slowest to recover since April, with numbers still only 60pc of pre-pandemic levels at the end of September.

Hospitals have put extensive measures in place so that patients can get safely tested and treated, say NELCSU, including by rolling out Covid protected hubs across the country and introducing treatment swaps that require fewer trips to hospital and have less of an effect on cancer patients’ immune systems.

Visit nhs.uk/cancersymptoms for more information.

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