According to the charity Macmillan, in 2015 there were an estimated 2.5 million people in the United Kingdom living with cancer.
While the COVID 19 crisis, which does not discriminate between sick and healthy, rich and poor, or increasingly between young and old, the treatment of otherwise healthy individuals must take priority, we should not ignore the needs of those already suffering from serious illness.
Two members of my family are currently receiving either care or treatment for incurable cancer. This normally takes places in special day care wards within general hospitals. Some patients have been informed that their next treatment will be postponed. There are various reasons for this in addition to preserving services for the treatment of patients with Coivd 19, one of which is to protect vulnerable cancer patients with compromised immune functioning from risk of contagion.
One solution to this problem would be to move regular day care cancer treatment into local private hospitals, staffed by recently retired medical personnel working under the direction of Consultants. In this way, ongoing cancer treatment could be kept separate from general hospitals and staff who have been in contact with Covid 19.
Cancer in its later stages also involves suffering which needs medical management. If cancer care was transferred out of general hospitals, medical support for patients could continue. Currently, if a cancer patient develops a treatable bacterial infection it involves a visit to A&E to be assessed, placing them in an environment of highest risk.