‘Extremely worrying’ 70% drop in cancer referrals across York NHS

Photograph: YorkMix
6 May 2020 @ 1.08 pm
| Health

Doctors are urging people to seek an appointment if they are worried about their health after a huge drop in cancer referrals.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, across the NHS Vale of York trust there has been a 70% reduction in two-week referrals from GP practices to secondary care.

The statistic “is extremely worrying to health professionals” said the trust.

Dr Dan Cottingham, cancer and end of life lead at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Cancer hasn’t gone away because of coronavirus.

“There will still be people in our community experiencing signs and symptoms of cancer such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in their urine, or a change to usual bowel habits – and so it is vital these people contact their GP practice so a doctor can investigate and refer to a specialist if necessary,” Dr Cottingham said.

‘Vital’ that people seek help

York Hospital. Photograph: YorkMix

Accessing a GP has changed during the pandemic but doctors’ surgeries are continuing to provide the same safe care they always have done.

“GP appointments are still available for patients to talk through any concerns over the phone or via an online video consultation, and are working closely with cancer specialist teams at York Hospital to ensure urgent cases continue to be seen promptly.”

Head of Cancer at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Laura Milburn, said:  “It is vital that patients experiencing concerning symptoms, especially those that could be cancer, contact their GPs for assessment during the pandemic.

“GP and hospital services have had to change significantly to manage the impact of the pandemic but we want to reassure patients who are referred into our hospitals for investigation that we are still providing the same quality of care, just in a different way, ensuring all the appropriate measures in line with government guidance are in place to keep patients safe when accessing services.”