People avoiding hospitals or being unable to obtain healthcare due to lockdown prevented as many as 740,000 urgent cancer care referrals in the UK, it has been revealed.
Medics are warning of the biggest cancer catastrophe ever to hit the NHS after a report by the report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that from the start of the pandemic millions of people have avoided seeking, or been unable to obtain, healthcare.
By June 2021, NHS cancer services activity had recovered to pre-pandemic levels. However, in September 2021 only 68% of patients requiring treatment within 62 days of urgent referral by their GP were receiving that treatment on time, the NAO said.
In total, between 240,000 and 740,000 urgent referrals for suspected cancer cases were missed.
The report also warned that with the flood of missing referrals returning to place a further burden on the system, the waiting list could grow to 12 million by March 2025.
Catchup With Cancer co-founder Professor Pat Price described the situation as frightening.
There is a deadly cocktail of delays across the board, a regional lottery of cancer inequality and a growing cancer backlog. And it feels like the Government and NHS leaders have their heads in the sand, she said. Visit our store now before the sale ends!
While people who oppose face masks, lockdown measures and other interventions are routinely blamed for exacerbating COVID deaths, vehement advocates for lockdown rarely ever face condemnation for supporting policies that have drastically increased excess deaths.
We previously highlighted the comments of Richard Sullivan, professor of cancer and global health and director of its Institute of Cancer Policy, who said that missed cancer treatments would claim more lives than COVID over the medium to long term.
The number of deaths due to the disruption of cancer services is likely to outweigh the number of deaths from the coronavirus itself over the next five years, said Sullivan.
The cessation and delay of cancer care will cause considerable avoidable suffering, said Sullivan. Cancer screening services have stopped, which means we will miss our chance to catch many cancers when they are treatable and curable, such as cervical, bowel and breast.