Two cancer patients at Barts Health NHS Trust are fronting a campaign on the importance of attending hospital appointments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Clera and Bron’s stories are part of a series of films from the North East London Cancer Alliance which seek to reassure local residents that our hospitals are open and it is safe to come in for tests, scans and operations, when needed.
Anyone worried they might have symptoms of cancer should speak to their GP as soon as possible.
Clera, whose cancer treatment coincided with the start of lockdown in March, admitted to feeling nervous before attending St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
“[The staff] reassured me because it’s a new process.
“They really played their part – it was really, really good. I can’t thank them enough.”
Bron was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. She has been impressed by the measures in place to keep Barts Health patients safe during the outbreak:
“There was a lot of detail that had gone into making the waiting room safe.
“I was seen within minutes. It was the quickest appointment I think I’ve ever had!”
At St Bartholomew’s Hospital alone, more than 3,000 patients received urgent cancer care during the first peak in Covid-19 cases between March and June.
Strict infection control measures were introduced at the start of the outbreak to prevent the spread of the virus.
Alongside regular screening for symptoms, employees and patients are tested for Covid-19 each week to monitor the prevalence of the virus in our hospitals.
All staff and patients must wear a face mask or covering, and changes have been made to waiting areas to enable social distancing.
Visitor restrictions are in place to reduce the number of people in our buildings. Anyone who enters must have their temperature checked at the front door.
Prof Tom Powles, director of Barts Cancer Centre, told the film: “We have been treating patients throughout the pandemic. Radiotherapy, systemic therapy and chemotherapy has all continued.”
Despite this number, concerns remain that patients are not seeking help when they need it.
“We have noticed the number of patients who are referred to us has dropped", said Prof Powles.
“Me and my colleagues are really concerned that people, with the best will in the world, are sitting at home with symptoms.”
Dip Mukherjee, a cancer consultant at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “If you think that something has changed, if you just sit and wait, things will not get better.
“If you have got a lump; if you have got significant new diarrhoea; if you cannot swallow food – you get seen, because you have a responsibility to yourself.
“Cancer doesn’t wait for the coronavirus pandemic to be over.”
Watch the films in full below and on YouTube.
- Here for you, safe for all: a cancer patient on the importance of receiving treatment during Covid-19
- ‘Triple check’ part of range of measures keeping patients safe at Barts Cancer Centre
- Coronavirus: Crucial ops continue for breast cancer patients
- Watch: How Barts Health hospitals have remained safe during the pandemic