PEOPLE in West Lancashire are being urged to attend vitally important cancer appointments if asked to by their GP.
Cancer specialists are reporting an increase in patients with suspected cancer cancelling appointments.
However, health bosses are urging people to keep these appointments and want to assure them that everything is being done to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 when visiting hospitals for urgent procedures.
All patients with suspected cancer are referred for an urgent appointment at the hospital, which can either rule out the presence of the disease or pick it up early and allow for urgent investigations and treatment to begin.
Dr Peter Gregory, local GP and chair of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Cancer, heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses will not wait for COVID-19 to go away. It is important to remember that while we are in lockdown and many things have closed temporarily, some services continue to be of extreme importance.
“If you have been fast-tracked for investigations into potential cancer, it is vitally important you do everything possible to attend that appointment.
“The hospital has taken steps to minimise the risk to patients and will try to do as many appointments as possible by video or telephone. However, it is very important to undergo investigations where someone may have developed cancer, and this can only be done at the hospital or in certain community venues.
“We cannot help people and try to rule out cancer unless we get them to have these investigations. We must carry on and try to diagnose cancer so we can start treatment early.”
Elaine Deeming, Lead Cancer Nurse at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said looking after cancer patients remained a top priority.
“We aim to ensure all patients undergoing cancer investigations are treated safely and promptly, using telephone clinics for clinical appointments where possible, by limiting waiting times in hospital if a face-to-face appointment is necessary, and promoting self-supported cancer pathways.
“I would encourage patients to keep in touch with their GPs about any health concerns.”
Measures being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection at the hospital include:
- all patients going to appointments being asked whether they have any symptoms on arrival and distancing measures have been taken to keep people apart.
- Hand sanitizers are located by all entrances and are being monitored.
- Only those who have an urgent need to be in the hospital have been given appointments, therefore there are no busy waiting rooms and waiting times will be kept to an absolute minimum.
To find out what health services are available in West Lancashire and how to access them during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the CCG’s website.