Cancer and Coronavirus

It’s been a long two years since we saw the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much has changed since our lives were turned upside down in so many ways. This tumultuous time created significant change in how healthcare was delivered and this is still being felt through the NHS.

The biggest change, which we have all noticed, is that much of our contact with GPs and clinicians has moved to either telephone triage or e-consult. This has had both positive benefits, but also some downsides.

Equally, we know it has been difficult for our friends working in the NHS to keep stretched services operating as effectively as possible.

Things can change quickly with the pandemic, and how it is affecting the NHS, but we will try to keep this page as up to date as possible. Here, we have answered the most commonly asked questions.

Appointments – Have they changed?

Whilst many appointments have moved to a telephone consultation, GPs  and clinicians are still seeing patients face-to-face. For many, having a telephone appointment is very convenient – no fighting for car parking space and less time out of your days. However, as with all of medicine, much of it is based on clinical examination and if you require being examined, you will be seen face-to-face. This includes many cases in gynaecology.

Can I attend my appointment with a family member or friend?

Most GP surgeries and hospitals still restrict the number of people allowed in waiting areas to minimise the risks to yourself, staff and other patients who may be particularly vulnerable and immunocompromised. In some circumstances you may be allowed to bring another person with you and the appointing team should always let you know. If you are unsure, please do ask.

Do I still have to wear a face covering to my appointment?

Most GP surgeries and hospitals continue to operate a policy of mask wearing for both patients, staff and visitors.

Do I need to be vaccinated to attend a medical appointment?

No. The Government, as we know, has encouraged us all to take up the vaccine and booster but this is not mandatory, except for healthcare staff when legislation is due to be introduced from 1 April 2022.

Should I still attend for my cervical screening?

Definitely yes. The cervical screening programme is there to pick up any high-risk HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), and abnormal cell changes, so that they can be treated early and cervical cancer can be prevented. So, it’s really important you still attend.

I'm worried my cancer treatment will be delayed due to covid.

At the start of the pandemic, some areas across the country struggled to keep up with capacity due to the high demand on ICU (intensive care units) and HDU (high dependency units) beds. This did mean in some cases, gynaecological pathways were delayed, including cancer. Much of this has now resolved, although there are still some pockets where meeting the required timelines has struggled. The new Faster Diagnostic Standard in cancer care is there to drive improvements to ensure anyone referred on a Two Week Wait (suspected cancer pathway) knows within 28 days whether they have cancer or not. This is currently being implemented across England.

Will my cancer treatment be affected if I have covid?

If you are about to undergo any hospital appointment, outpatient or in-patient hospital procedure you will be required to be covid negative. It’s always a good idea to undertake a lateral flow before attending the hospital. In-patient procedures will require a PCR test.

For full resources on the current Government guidance relating to covid, visit the Gov.uk website.

If you still have any questions, worries or concerns, why not contact our Ask Eve service for information and guidance on nurse@eveappeal.org.uk or 0808 802 0019.