A message from the Northern Cancer Alliance

We would like to begin this message by acknowledging the worries and concerns that many cancer patients and their loved ones may have at the moment and appreciate that these uncertain times will be causing people to be understandably anxious.

We want to take this opportunity to reassure you that the Northern Cancer Alliance remains committed to working with our regional health and care system to ensure our patients continue to have access to the best cancer treatment and care at this time.

Whilst all of our health and care organisations are working relentlessly to tackle the impact of Covid-19 virus, the delivery of cancer services remains a top priority for the NHS. Our cancer teams continue to work extremely hard to ensure that all essential and urgent cancer diagnosis, treatment and care continues during the pandemic.

In order to safeguard patients and staff, and enable the best provision of care, there may be some changes to how some cancer services are delivered.

Some people with cancer will be more vulnerable to Covid-19 because their treatment can weaken their immune system. Cancer specialists will discuss this with patients and make appropriate plans to make sure treatment is as safe and effective as possible. This may include changing how, where or when treatment is given.

The government has advised around 200,000 cancer patients who are particularly vulnerable to stay at home for 12 weeks to minimise their risk of infection. People can still attend hospital for essential treatments, but cancer teams are finding ways to reduce the need for them to leave their homes, wherever possible.

Many appointments will be held via telephone or video calls. Some patients may have fewer radiotherapy appointments where appropriate and possible. Patients may continue their treatment plan at home to reduce unnecessary hospital visits. Please remember however it is important that you attend for any pre-arranged procedures. If you have any concerns regarding Covid-19 you should speak to a member of your clinical team.

Some patients may need to receive their treatment at an alternative hospital site, as the NHS sets up ’Cancer Hubs’ to coordinate cancer treatment, provide dedicated sites to ensure cancer treatment can continue safely during the pandemic. It is important to remember you have the right to expect that any decisions about treatment will be made by the patient and their specialist, along with other experts where required.

Our Covid-19 webpage for people affected by cancer includes a range of information from a number of national cancer charities as well as the NHS and GOV.UK. Please access this page by clicking here.

The Northern Cancer Alliance would also like to emphasise that if you have symptoms that you think may be cancer, you should contact your GP. We understand that you may be worried about how Covid-19 impacts on things like getting tests, treatment and care. Your GP will work with you and the hospital teams to plan any tests you may need. For further information and guidance please visit the Macmillan website.

More general Covid-19 information and guidance for the wider public is also available here.

We appreciate the situation is evolving rapidly and we will provide regular updates as circumstances change.

Finally, please stay safe and continue to stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.

Kindest Regards

Katie Elliot                                      Angela Wood

Primary Care Clinical Director     Secondary Care Clinical Director  (Northern Cancer Alliance)