A message from the Northern Cancer Alliance – January 2021

We understand the worries and concerns that many cancer patients and their loved ones may have as a result of this latest lockdown and the rising Covid numbers. We appreciate that these uncertain times will be causing people to be understandably anxious.

We want 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 the Covid 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 and treatment continues during the pandemic.

The government has again advised those cancer patients who are particularly vulnerable to stay at home 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 continue to 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.

In order to safeguard patients and staff, and enable the best provision of care, it has been necessary to make some changes to how some cancer services are delivered.

Some people with cancer will be more vulnerable to Covid because their treatment can weaken their immune system. Cancer specialists discuss any concerns with patients and ensure appropriate plans are in place to make sure treatment is as safe and effective as possible. This can include changing how, where and when treatment is given.

Some patients may be offered treatment at an alternative hospital site to avoid delays. The NHS has  ’Cancer Hubs’ to coordinate treatment based on clinical need and capacity at protected sites to ensure treatment continues to be given safely during the pandemic.

Patients with cancer will be entitled to receive the Covid vaccine as per the national guidance. Their invitation to receive the vaccine will come via their GP or treating clinician. There is no need to telephone to ask about this.  Further information about the vaccine for cancer is available on Macmillan website

Our Covid 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.

Covid information for the general public including information about the potential signs and symptoms of cancer is also available here.

The Northern Cancer Alliance would also like to emphasise that if you have symptoms that you think may be cancer, you need to contact your GP. We understand that you may be worried about how Covid 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 for cancer patients during the pandemic please visit the Macmillan website.

Kindest Regards

Katie Elliot                                      Angela Wood

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